The Cubs are exploring ways to add starting pitching to the roster. As the players received a much-needed breather Monday in New York, the front office prepared for the start of the International signing period as rumors continued to mount on which pitchers they might try to acquire before the deadline.
Questions were raised Monday if the Cubs would be better off being sellers instead of buyers after being swept over the weekend. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said publicly the Cubs would be aggressive and any trades that are made would have to make sense for now and for the future. In other words, the Cubs are not going to trade away the farm for rental players or move prospects in deals the front office does not think will make the big league team more competitive moving forward.
Despite the ‘sky is falling’ mentality from the media and a large portion of the fan base, the Cubs are in the middle of the Wild Card race in the National League. And making it to the post-season, even if it ends up being one game, would be a big step in the right direction for an organization that has not sniffed a post-season game for the better part of a decade.
With that said, the Cubs can barely field a five-man rotation right now and need help. The Cubs have been linked to several big names such as Cole Hamels, James Shields, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir. The Cubs are believed to be keeping tabs on Hamels but as for Shields, Samardzija and Kazmir, it is hard to see how those three pitchers fit the plan moving forward. The Cubs will have better options on the free agent market than Shields and will be able to control the language in the contract. And it would not fit the front office’s plan to spend prospect currency on what it would take to acquire Samardzija and Kazmir.
The Cubs are looking at smaller deals to improve the pitching staff with the trade deadline still a month away. The Cubs have been linked to LHP Jon Niese and but are reportedly no longer interested in the southpaw.
According to the Tribune, the Cubs could look at RHP Dan Haren and RHP Tom Koehler. The Marlins are believed to be in sell mode in the wake of the recent injury to Giancarlo Stanton. And both Haren and Koehler, along with RHP Mat Latos could be available.
The Cubs tried to acquire RHP Dan Haren from the Angels in November 2012 for RHP Carlos Marmol. The trade did not happen after it leaked to the media. Haren is having a good season for the Marlins with the Dodgers footing bill. The Marlins had the Dodgers pay Haren’s $10 million base salary when he was acquired as part of the deal that landed Dee Gordon and Miguel Rojas in Miami and sent Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, Enrique (Kike) Hernandez and Andrew Heaney to the Los Angeles. Haren has an incentives package that the Dodgers are not responsible for paying.
Haren is 6-5 in 15 starts with a 3.38 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 4.25 FIP. And on the road, Haren is 3-3 in seven starts with a 4.03 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Haren is a free agent after the season.
RHP Tom Koehler is 6-4 in 15 games, 14 starts, with a 3.66 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 4.55 FIP. Koehler has allowed 38 runs, 35 earned, on 78 hits with 30 walks and 62 strikeouts in 86 innings. Koehler has really struggled on the road and is 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA and 1.59 WHIP (27 runs, 26 earned, on 44 hits with 16 walks and 28 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings). Koehler is arbitration eligible for the first time next season and does not become a free agent until after 2018. The three years of team control beyond this season would make Koehler an attractive option for the Cubs. Koehler turned 29 on Monday.
The Cubs have a good chance of seeing both Dan Haren and Tom Koehler during the weekend series with the Marlins at Wrigley according to the Tribune.
The front office will have a better idea over the next two weeks where the team stacks up with the rest of the National League. But even moves such as acquiring a starter for the backend of the rotation will likely be necessary to complete the season due to the lack of depth of near-ready big league starters in the organization.