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Matt Garza will return as the veteran leader of the Cubs rotation at the start of 2013. Whether he finishes the season that way remains to be seen.
1. RHP Matt Garza
2. RHP Jeff Samardzija
3. LHP Travis Wood
4. RHP Justin Germano
5. LHP Chris Rusin/LHP Brooks Raley
The top of the rotation remains the same, with Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija leading the way. Travis Wood will be asked to take another step towards becoming the third member of that leading group.
While a front-of-the-rotation starter like Zack Greinke or a solid secondary arm in Brandon McCarthy would be welcome additions in Chicago, chances are that neither fits into Theo Epstein's plans for the Cubs in the foreseeable future.
In comments he made to Bruce Miles of the Chicago Daily Herald, Epstein waxed poetic on how he views the Cubs and the free-agent market:
Sometimes that works out for you, but more often than not, it doesn’t. There’s a price to pay for that type of thing. If you get tempted and you get impatient and you try to solve your problems through free agency, there’s always a price to pay. Usually, it happens pretty soon toward the end of that deal. Free agency is definitely a nice way to add talent to an organization without giving up talent, but you cannot make an organization that way. We have a lot of steps ahead of us we have to take care of before we’re in position to add a finishing piece or two through free agency.
We'll always look to free agency. We'll always be on every free agent and see if it's the right player or the right value. If we sat around and drew up a plan that had free agency as the answer to most of our problems, we’d be on a fool’s errand there. We need to build a foundation based on scouting we believe in, player development we believe in, a steady flow of prospects.
It's pretty clear that the Cubs are looking to build from within. And in doing so, they'll give a pair of young southpaws a chance to stick at the back-end of the rotation out of the gate in 2013—26-year-old Chris Rusin and 24-year-old Brooks Raley.
Either one of those two, or Arodys Vizcaino—who is expected to be healthy for spring training—could easily beat out Germano for one of the two final spots in the Cubs' 2013 rotation.
Coming off of Tommy John surgery, the Cubs very well may decide to groom him as an eventual replacement for Carlos Marmol in the ninth inning instead of throwing him out there as a starter every fifth day.