MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Pitchers for Theo Epstein and Chicago Cubs To Target

Jeff Chase@@Real_Jeff_ChaseSenior Analyst IIOctober 26, 2011

MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Pitchers for Theo Epstein and Chicago Cubs To Target

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    When the Chicago Cubs introduced Theo Epstein yesterday, he was hesitant on what kinds of moves the Chicago Cubs will be making under his rule. It is good that Epstein will not be continuing the buying habits that Jim Hendry had, but it is somewhat of a letdown for Cub fans that were looking forward to seeing some big player land on the North Side.

    There is nothing set in stone, and perhaps Epstein was just trying to throw his competition off by making them think he is going to go in the opposite direction than many would think. One would understand that Epstein would be hesitant in offering big contracts to big players because it seems like more times than not, they fail.

    The Cubs should make sure they at least spend their money somewhere. That place would be starting pitching. The Cubs need help in many areas, but no place more than the pitching rotation.

    Here are five starting pitchers that Epstein should take a look at come free agency.

Mark Buehrle

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    Current Team: Chicago White Sox

    Age: 32

    Throwing Arm: Left

    2011 Stats: 13-9, 3.59 ERA and 109 strikeouts


    The Chicago Cubs would make a big move in going after their in-state rival's starting pitcher Mark Buehrle. The Cubs are in real need of a left-handed pitcher, and Buehrle presents a consistent and strong option for either the middle or back end of the Cubs' future rotation.

    The Cubs shouldn't give Buehrle too much money, but they should definitely think about signing him to a good deal. Beuhrle did improve from 2010, dropping his ERA from 4.28 to 3.59, but he still needs to get it a little lower to return back to his elite status. A change in environment should be good for Buehrle though, even though there may be enough of that on the South Side with the departure of Ozzie Guillen.

CC Sabathia

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    Current Team: New York Yankees

    Age: 31

    Throwing Arm: Left

    2011 Stats: 19-8, 3.00 ERA and 230 strikeouts


    Boy, would the Chicago Cubs be making a huge splash by bringing CC Sabathia to the North Side. The only issue is that this would cost the Cubs major money. Sabathia is probably the least likely player that the Cubs could get, simply because the Yankees won't let him get away. I also am not sure if the Cubs would shell out that amount of cash for Sabathia, as they could take that money to fill many different holes.

    Still, Sabathia is worth a look. It doesn't mean overpay for him, but if the price is right, Theo Epstein and the Cubs need to grab him.

Roy Oswalt

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    Current Team: Philadelphia Phillies

    Age: 34

    Throwing Arm: Right

    2011 Stats: 9-10, 3.69 ERA and 93 strikeouts


    The option of Roy Oswalt depends on one thing: money. If Oswalt is going to be demanding a lot of money, it will be hard to see any real upside cutting a deal there, but if he looks for his real market value, it wouldn't hurt for the Cubs to grab him. 2011 was definitely a down year for Oswalt, but he has proven in the past that he can be a great pitcher.

    When he made the move from Houston to Philly in 2010, Oswalt went 7-1 with a 1.89 ERA. That was just a season ago, so there is no reason to think that ability has totally disappeared. Oswalt would be a solid option, but the Cubs should look to make a deal on an incentive-built contract.

Edwin Jackson

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    Current Team: St. Louis Cardinals

    Age: 28

    Throwing Arm: Right

    2011 Stats: 12-9, 3.79 ERA and 148 strikeouts (White Sox and Cardinals combined)


    Many people are big on Edwin Jackson, but personally, I am not sold yet. The good thing about Jackson is he likely won't demand as much money as others on this list, but he also doesn't guarantee anything since his past isn't exactly bright. The one reason I see Jackson being an option for the Cubs is that I see more of a future of him being the Cubs' No. 4 or 5 pitcher in the rotation.

    Jackson may stick around in St. Louis if the Cardinals do win the World Series, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if he did explore free agency even with a title.

C.J. Wilson

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    Current Team: Texas Rangers

    Age: 30

    Throwing Arm: Left

    2011 Stats: 16-7, 2.94 ERA and 206 strikeouts


    Perhaps the best and most realistic option in Chicago would be Texas Rangers ace C.J. Wilson. The southpaw presents a great option for the Cubs in 2012 and going forward, creating a one-two punch with Cubs starter Matt Garza.

    It will be tough to tell what direction Wilson will take when the World Series ends, considering that the Rangers have made the World Series two years in a row. That is a tough situation to walk away from, but if the Rangers are not able to offer Wilson the same money that the Cubs can, it will be interesting to see if Wilson decides on the opportunity for more money or to be loyal with a consistent winner.

    Of course, there will be other teams very much involved in Wilson, so don't be surprised if his price tag raises dramatically.

    More Cubs Articles by Jeff Chase:

    Mark Buehrle Will Be Cubs Rivalry Steal

    Roy Oswalt is Great Fit for Chicago

    How Long Till Theo Has Cubs Winning

    Matt Kemp Should be Theo's First Move

    5 Managers Theo Should Go After

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