The 2012-2013 MLB offseason has begun. The free agent list includes 95 pitchers as of November 4, 2012, and the Chicago Cubs are in dire need of both starters and relievers. I understand their not wanting to overspend on long-term deals during a rebuilding period, so that may rule out the top free agent pitchers such as Zack Greinke or Kyle Loshe. Here are a few other good pitchers that could give the Cubs a boost as they retool for 2013.
Starter Dan Haren
The Cubs came close to trading away closer Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels for starter Dan Haren, so they were apparently ready to pay Haren the $15.5 million that his 2013 club option would have required. However, the deal did not occur, and the Angels declined the option, making Haren a free agent. Haren is 119-97 with a very respectable 3.66 ERA pitching most of his career in the A.L. and N.L. West.
Haren won 12 games for the Angels in 2012. At age 32, the Cubs could sign him to a short-term deal for far less than $15.5 million per year. Haren can also swing a bat well, a skill that the current Cub starters lack.
Starter Anibal Sanchez
The hold up about Anibal Sanchez is that he may command a big contract. He made $8 million at age 28 in 2012 and helped the Detroit Tigers reach the World Series. He had a 3.74 ERA in 12 starts for the Tigers after his trade from the Miami Marlins. He pitched brilliantly in the postseason (1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings). Sanchez would make a solid front-end starter for the Cubs if they are willing to pay him well.
Reliever Jonathan Broxton
I wanted to see Marmol succeed as the closer. He improved his control some in the second half of 2012, but I believe it is now time for the Cubs to find a new closer. I would have liked the trade for Haren. I do not see the Cubs paying the money that Raphael Soriano may want, but Jonathan Broxton is available.
Broxton pitched 25 games for the Cincinnati Reds last year, so he has seen the N.L. Central hitters. Overall in 2012, Broxton saved 23 games for the Kansas City Royals and four more for the Reds with a combined 2.48 ERA. Even if he did not close, he would make a valuable setup man, and he may not cost much more than the $4 million he made in 2012.
Reliever Jeremy Affeldt
The Cubs could really use a lefty in the bullpen. Jeremy Affeldt is one of the best in the National League. He just won the World Series with the San Francisco Giants, so he could easily mentor some younger pitchers for a few years. He was 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA from the pen and can get the tough left-handed hitters that the Reds and St. Louis Cardinals have. Affeldt made $5 million in 2012, and at age 33, he could come in at close to the same salary, which the Cubs can afford.
The Cubs need help in all spots of the pitching staff. These and other free agents make strong cases for short-term deals. I hope the Cubs make the necessary moves on the pitching staff to put themselves closer to contention in 2013 and 2014.
Baseball Reference, Individual Player Pages (Linked Above), baseball-reference.com.
CBS Sports.com, 2013 MLB Free Agents, cbssports.com.
Raymond grew up in Florida and began watching the Cubs on WGN in 1982. He became a fan in 1984 when Ryne Sandberg hit the two famous game-tying home runs off Cardinals closer and former Cub Bruce Sutter. Raymond then solidified his team loyalty when the Cubs won the division later that season and has been a fan ever since. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau.
More from this contributor:
Which Free Agents Should the Cubs Pursue? Fan Opinion
Top Five Kerry Wood Cub Moments: Fan Opinion
Chicago Cubs’ Billy Goat Curse: Ten Heartbreaking Near-World Series Moments
All Cubs Team of My Lifetime: Fan Opinion
Cubs’ 2012 Season Poor but Not Disappointing: A Fan’s Season Review