According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs remain focused on adding a starting pitcher this winter … and possibly another reliever and a left-handed bat for the bench. If Jim Hendry is unable to land his main targets, could the Cubs be forced to move on to backup plans to fill out their off-season list?
With that in mind, here is my list of free agents the Cubs could sign … if the price is right. Let’s start by saying that this article is for discussion purposes only. The Cubs have not been directly connected to any of these players by the mainstream media.
Yes, injury prone Brad Penny. I know this would be a controversial move, but for the right price Brad Penny could be a decent addition to the Cubs for the 2011 season.
Penny has a career 3.99 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in the NL. He is far from a number one pitcher on any staff, but if healthy (which is a big if), Penny could be a solid number three or four starter in the Cubs rotation. A low-base, incentive laden deal could end up being a bargain for a pitcher with his upside … plus, if the Cubs are out of contention Penny could have value at the deadline and net the Cubs a mid-level prospect or two.
Chad Qualls, Chad Durbin and Todd Coffey are all still available and I would like to see the Cubs add another arm to the bullpen … especially with Kerry Wood’s injury history.
Now I know what you are thinking, Chad Qualls was absolutely horrible last year with the Diamondbacks and Rays. Qualls posted a combined 3-4 record with a 7.32 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP (2-0 with the Rays in 27 games with a 5.57 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP.
However, Qualls does have a respectable, yet unspectacular career ERA of 3.82 and a WHIP of 1.27. If he is still available toward the end of January, a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training could be very fruitful if he is able to return to form.
Chad Durbin wanted to return to the Philadelphia but apparently the Phillies have moved on. Durbin started his career very poorly, which is one reason his career ERA is at 5.05 (with a 1.50 WHIP). Over the last three season with the Phillies, Durbin’s ERA is a respectable 3.62 (11-7 in 194 games for the Phillies with a 1.37 WHIP, 109 walks, 188 strikeouts, 200 hits and 20 home runs allowed in 226 innings). Like Chad Qualls, if Durbin is still available in a month, a $1 million could end up being a bargain.
Todd Coffey is coming off an unspectacular year and was non-tendered by the Brewers. Coffey was 2-4 with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in 69 games (62 1/3 innings). If Coffey could return to his 2009 form (4-4 with a 2.90 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP), he could be a very solid addition for the right low price.
None of these guys are eye popping but they all could help solidify the Cubs bullpen … and if the Cubs are out of contention at the deadline they could net a prospect for the investment.
If the Cubs want a versatile left-handed bench bat, as Levine suggested, then maybe Jim Hendry should dig out Jim Edmonds’ number. Jim Edmonds can still play every outfield position with respectable defense, plus Edmonds has experience at first base (six games, three starts at first in 2010).
Last year versus right-handed pitchers Edmonds hit .285/.351/.520/.871 with nine home runs and 20 doubles in 222 plate appearances. Edmonds also plays the game the right way and could be a good mentor for a Tyler Colvin or even a Brett Jackson.
If the Cubs could sign him for the same price the Brewers did last year ($850,000, traded him to the Reds for Chris Dickerson), he could be a nice addition.
What are your thoughts? Should Jim Hendry do a little shopping in the bargain bin?