Chicago Cubs: Taking a look at potential free agent targets

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Sep 8, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher

Jordan Zimmermann

(27) pitches to New York Mets left fielder

Michael Conforto

(30) during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Zimmermann

While not as attractive as someone like David Price, in my mind Zimmerman is one of the most likely target of the upcoming offseason for Chicago.

Why, you may ask?

Simple. He’s likely to get somewhere in the $100-$125 million range and has been one of the game’s most consistent starting pitchers, despite having underwent Tommy John surgery. From 2011 through his last outing, the right-hander has pitched to a 3.06 earned run average to go alone with a sterling 4.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 151 starts.

Zimmermann has finished in the top 10 of National League Cy Young voting in each of the past two seasons, winning 19 and 14 games, respectively. He’s been lights-out at Nationals Park this year, with a 2.47 ERA – over two runs better than his work on the road.

Slotting a pitcher of his caliber into the number three spot in the Cubs rotation would go a long way in addressing the starting rotation weakness that has plagued this team from time-to-time this year. It would allow Maddon to slide Hammel back to the four spot and use any number of back-end options, probably Hendricks, for the final rotation piece.

He’s not a game-changer in the way that Price would be, but with a lower price tag and a near-impeccable record of consistency, don’t be surprised when you start seeing the Cubs linked to Zimmerman again this winter.

Next: Mike Leake

Sep 13, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Mike Leake (13) pitches the ball against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leake

The former Cincinnati Reds right-hander represents the buy-low mentality we’ve seen at work time and time again during the tenure of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

He reminds me a lot of Jason Hammel, who has pitched some of his best ball in Chicago – while quietly flying under-the-radar the entire time. There’s no doubt that Leake has talent, but he’s not a front-end starting pitcher – nor will he get paid like one.

Leake will be heading into his age 28 season next year having won double-digit games in four of the previous five campaigns, including a career-high 14 back in 2014 with Cincinnati. He hasn’t been the shot-in-the-arm the Giants hoped for when they acquired the right-hander at the break, but injuries have cost him a big chunk of the second half.

Having just earned his first win with San Francisco over the weekend, the former first-round pick has pitched to a 4.34 ERA and 4.70 FIP in a half-dozen outings with his new club – both higher than his career 3.87 and 4.18 marks with the Reds.

Again, much like several other names on this list, he adds quality depth to the mix for Chicago. More important, perhaps, is the fact that he will not command “ace” money, either – giving the Cubs more flexibility to plug holes and add depth pieces to back up the up-and-coming core that’s already assembled there.

Next: Cubs getting plenty from Fowler, Coghlan in 2015