MLB Free Agency: 5 Free Agents Who Should Be High on Chicago Cubs' Wish List
The offseason couldn't have come any faster for the Chicago Cubs.
After a 61-101 record, third worst in franchise history, the Cubs will look to pick up the pieces this offseason during free agency.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has stressed the importance of not rushing in order to build a championship team. Instead, they have to find prospects and develop them through the Cubs' system, which can be time consuming.
But it wouldn't hurt to pick up a few good players this offseason when the Cubs desperately need help to avoid another 100-loss year.
Starting pitching will be a prime target for the organization as it was a weak spot last season. Good relief pitching will also be looked at and possibly a new closer.
The Cubs will also look to add an additional bat in the lineup to replace the production of ex-Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
Regardless, the organization will be busy this offseason and these are the five free agents that should be high up on the Cubs' wish list.
Right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum can throw a wide array of pitches that include a four-seam fastball, splitter and a cutter that all range within the low 90's to upper 70's.
He's a decent starting pitcher in the fourth or fifth spot of a rotation and can eat up innings for a team that needs starting pitching, like the Cubs.
He will become a free agent this offseason after spending last year with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The question is will the Cubs invest at least $4 million in a starting pitcher that will only be used in the bottom half of a rotation?
Marcum made $7.725 last season with the Brewers and was placed on waivers in August where he went unclaimed.
No doubt that Marcum will improve a stagnant Cubs rotation and add the depth they have been looking for in years past.
Starting pitcher Jake Peavy will become a free agent if the Chicago White Sox don't pick up his $22 million club option for 2013.
Peavy, coming off his first 200-inning season since 2007, could be a valuable No. 1 or No. 2 rotation type pitcher that can garner 10 wins a season.
He will come at a price that the Cubs won't find appealing though—three years $40 million would be respectable enough to sign the right-handed pitcher.
The question is should the Cubs take a risk on the injury-prone starting pitcher who has the ability to pitch among the best in the league.
It will be a tough call, but it's something that the Cubs should consider while Peavy sits on the free-agent market.
The Cubs have a hole to fill concerning the absence of former third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
They have to find a guy that can make up for some of his offensive absence and his defensive abilities as well.
Jeff Keppinger might be the guy that the Cubs will want to look at this free agency.
Keppinger is a great utility player that can play many positions on the infield (though his specialty is at third base). He's also a decent hitter that can hit left-handed pitching, something that the Cubs have been lacking in the starting lineup all season.
Keppinger will also help the Cubs' salary situation as he made $1.5 million last season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Sign him somewhere around that neighborhood and the Cubs will have the kind of utility player they haven't seen since Mark DeRosa was traded.
From the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and last season with the Washington Nationals, Edwin Jackson has been well travelled over the years, and will be a great No. 3 or No. 4 starter in any rotation.
Jackson has a four-seam fastball that hits the 95 mph mark and a curveball that ranges between 78-85 mph.
It has been rumored that Jackson (via masnsports.com) would like to stay with the Nationals, so the Cubs would have to put a lucrative offer on the table in order to gain interest.
The Cubs could use any kind of depth they can find for their starting rotation, especially considering they traded Ryan Dempster to clear up some salary.
Joe Blanton is another starting pitcher that the Cubs could use if they are lucky enough to sign him during free agency.
Blanton is at best a guy that can fill a fourth or fifth spot in a starting rotation, again being able to eat up innings for the Cubs.
He has a fastball in the low 90's and a 4.37 career ERA which ranks him as a decent pitcher in the MLB.
The only unappealing part for the Cubs is that he made $8.5 million last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Still, a pitcher Chicago should take a look at in order to bolster their starting rotation entering next season.
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