The Cubs were in the Tanaka process to win it, and failed -- likely not because they didn't have the money to spend, because they had said from the beginning they weren't going to be outbid. Don't call the Cubs cheap, not on this one, anyway.
This implies that the Cubs still have money to spend, though Theo Epstein said at the Cubs Convention that they might be able to roll some of this year's baseball budget into 2015 -- implying that if they didn't get Tanaka, there would be excess dollars.
So, clearly, the Cubs can afford just about any free-agent starting pitcher left on the market. Who's on that list? Here's MLB Trade Rumors' Free Agent Tracker, which lists the following starting pitchers as still available (in alphabetical order):
Bronson Arroyo, Scott Baker, Erik Bedard, A.J. Burnett, Chris Capuano, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Matt Garza, Jason Hammel, Tommy Hanson, Aaron Harang, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jair Jurrjens, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm, Jason Marquis, Daisuke Matsuzaka, James McDonald, Jeff Niemann, Clayton Richard, Ervin Santana, Johan Santana, Joe Saunders, Jake Westbrook, Suk-min Yoon, Barry Zito
Some of those names you can cross off, because either they've already announced their retirement or appear close to doing so (Burnett, Westbrook), or they're nearing the end of their effectiveness (Garcia, Garland, Harang, Matsuzaka, Saunders, Zito).
Most of you would agree that the better names on that list are: Arroyo, Garza, Jimenez and E. Santana.
I think Arroyo's too old; he's nearly 37 and though he's been pretty consistent, at that age decline could come quickly. Garza: been there, done that, plus there are injury concerns. Either Ervin Santana or Jimenez would probably be a decent signing, though expensive, and both would cost the Cubs' second-round pick.
Maholm has been mentioned as a possibility; he was hurt part of last year, but the Cubs signed him before 2012 under similar circumstances (coming off an injury) and he was quite effective. Plus, being lefthanded would be a bonus. Maholm turns 32 in June, and -- if you're a fan of such things -- could be flipped yet again at the trading deadline if the Cubs aren't in contention. (Maholm should probably buy stock in a moving company.)
A couple of younger names on that list, who have had success but been injured in recent years, intrigue me: Jurrjens and Hanson. Hanson is just 27, Jurrjens will turn 28 next week. Either could be a real nice reclamation project and neither would likely be very expensive. Same for McDonald, though he's a bit older (29).
What do you think? The Tanaka signing means the logjam of teams waiting for this to happen is about to break; I'd think we will hear of quite a few starting-pitcher signings in the next week or so. I'm not going to post a poll here because there are simply too many names on the list. Post your choice(s) in the comments.