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The Cubs bullpen was a mess from the onset of the season, starting with closer Carlos Marmol and his inability to get people out. The Cubs were also hit by injuries and ineffective pitchers, forcing them to rely on already taxed arms.
Shawn Camp, a bright spot last year, was ineffective after being overworked in 2012. It didn't help that Kyuji Fujikawa, the team's closer insurance, was lost to a season-ending injury in the first month of the season.
The Cubs have plenty of arms that will get a look come spring training. Hector Rondon is a candidate for an increased role in 2014, as is Pedro Strop, who appears poised to take over the closer role left behind by Kevin Gregg.
Gregg, who was picked up midseason, was one of the few positive notes from the Cubs' 2013 season. While the end of the season had a few bumps, the Cubs bullpen would have been in even more disarray if Gregg did not join the team. The Cubs found two solid arms in James Russell and Blake Parker, and hopefully their effectiveness can improve in 2014.
The Cubs would be wise to explore the free-agent market for a pair of bona-fide relievers. The team has done it in the past as a short-term move and it was fairly effective, most notably with Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry, who, regardless of how they finished with the team, were two pitchers the Cubs leaned on extensively and were successful.
Matt Guerrier, who was acquired for Carlos Marmol, pitched well enough before getting hurt to be in contention for a spot in the bullpen.
On the market, there are some intriguing names who would really help the Cubs over the short- and long-term.
Boone Logan, 29, has been the reliable lefty in Joe Girardi's bullpen the past four seasons. He's averaged 67 appearances a year, but as he is coming off surgery to remove a bone spur in his throwing elbow, there is some concern about his durability. Nevertheless, he and James Russell would make for a great duo, even if he only logs 45-50 appearances.
Chad Gaudin, 30, pitched well for the Giants this year and, as a former Cub, understands the challenge at stake. He would likely seek a two- or three-year deal, but as a spot starter his value to the Cubs is undeniable.
Joey Devine would make a great option for the Cubs bullpen. He is going to take a nice payday, but he is certainly someone who could compete for the closer job if Strop falters, something entirely possible after all.
As for internal options, we can expect to see Rafael Dolis back in action in 2014, as well as Daniel Bard, Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm, and Zac Rosscup, among others.