MLB Free Agency: Chicago Cubs Quietly Looking to Bolster Starting Rotation

Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IINovember 7, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 11:  Dan Haren #24 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 11, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Dan Haren, Brandon McCarthy and Shaun Marcum are all names that have been tied to the Chicago Cubs over the past week with little press surrounding them.

The Cubs are heading into the second year of the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer-led front office and after shedding several bad contracts in 2012, it may appear time for the team to spend a little cash once again.

Several days ago, prior to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim buying out his contract, Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago reported that the Cubs were looking to make a trade for Dan Haren.

Padilla pointed out that Haren, in that scenario, would likely have been a one-year rental for the Cubs to help bolster their starting rotation.

Clearly a deal was unable to be met and the Angels found it better to buy out Haren than to trade him.

Since that time, Gordon Whittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times has the Cubs linked to free agents McCarthy and Marcum.

Whittenmyer points out that the Cubs have more than $50 million in estimated payroll this season because of expired contracts.

That said, the team will likely remain frugal while buying the groceries this winter.

Once again, like last season, the team will likely be looking to acquire players who can be bought while their value is low: a player coming off an injury or a bargain guy with tools looking for a rebound season — somebody who can be flipped at the trade deadline for valuable young prospects if the Cubs are out of it.

Exactly like what the team did last winter when they signed Paul Maholm and David Dejesus.

Haren is coming off of a disappointing season in 2012 where he posted a 12-13 record with a 4.33 ERA and a 1.291 WHIP in 30 starts for the Angels.

Both McCarthy (29) and Marcum (30), have been injury prone over the past couple of seasons.

That said, both have still been solid pitchers when healthy.

As Mike Axisa of MLB Trade Rumors points out, McCarthy owns a 3.29 ERA in 281.2 innings since the start of last year, while Marcum is at a 3.60 ERA in 324.2 innings during the same time.

Like Maholm before them, they could be looking to sign one-year deals to boost their value for the 2014 season. Haren, while most established, could be looking to do the same.

The Cubs could be a perfect landing spot for all three free-agent hurlers. Should the team be able to reel in all three, their starting rotation for 2013 could be one of the most competitive in the National League Central with the likes of Haren, McCarthy, Marcum and Matt Garza leading the charge.

While things have been quiet in Chicago thus far, there's plenty to be excited about if you're a Cubs fan this winter.