Perusing the Cubs news this morning will lead you to believe they need to improve their starting pitching quickly if they want to compete with the visiting St. Louis Cardinals anytime soon.
Granted, it is a no-brainer that the Cubs will pursue pitching this off-season. However, I don’t believe there will be any pushing of panic buttons or overspending in the free-agent market either.
When it comes to acquiring Jon Lester, the Cubs are actually considered favorites in that derby. Yet lurking as always will be the New York Yankees (Theo Epstein’s free-agent-market nemesis) and they could conceivably push things into an uncomfortable place for the Cubs (and I don’t mean the back of a Volkswagen).
If the Yankees were to possibly give Lester an extra year the Cubs weren’t willing to give, all bets would be off on how the Cubs drastically improve the rotation.
However, there will be other options, some of which have developed in-house. Here is the thing people: Jake Arrieta is now a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. That is a declaration I can confidently make.
Kyle Hendricks has no doubt established himself as a part moving forward as well. On the flip side, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson may have made their last starts in a Cubs uniform. The latter is almost a certainty.
Patrick Mooney writes today to look out for Justin Masterson as a possible fit. Masterson could be another very worthwhile project for Chris Bosio, something not lost on the free agent.
“It’s definitely something you see,” Masterson said. “And of course there’s a front office here with guys that I know (very well). That’s a determining factor.
“There’s something to be said about going to a spot (where) you know who your coaches are. You know what you’re working with. You know how people work. It’s a lot more enjoyable than maybe something you’re unsure of and don’t know as much about.
“Because then you’re like: ‘Well, this could be great, or this could just be the worst couple years I got to deal with.’”
Yet, Masterson will likely get over paid for his current value, and his uncertainty, makes me leery. I don’t think the Cubs need to spend real dollars on middle of the rotation talent any longer. I would only open the checkbook for a bona fide ace at this point. Mooney makes the point, however, the Cubs will kick a lot of tires.
This front office truly believes they can overpower the National League with their bats in years to come. They know they still will need some valuable arms, but they aren’t going to overvalue them either.
I fully believe with an average to above-average rotation the Cubs can contend with their soon-to-be-loaded lineup. The Cubs believe this too.
They will simply not need to overpay in the free-agent market for pitching. Besides, the Cubs will also have many tradable assets to peddle in case a young controlled arm to their liking becomes available. Anyone need a shortstop?
The Cubs may be looking to spend on arms this winter, they just aren’t willing to give up any limbs for them.