The free-agent market isn't the only place where the Cubs might find starting pitcher help; Wednesday, I mentioned the Cubs might be interested in Shaun Marcum and/or Brandon McCarthy, either of whom could be helpful to the team both in 2013, and beyond.
So what about trading for a starting pitcher? Theo and Jed don't think that's going to happen:
"It's (not) the type of offseason where we have a ton of fits with 25 of the 29 other clubs," team President Theo Epstein said. "We'll pursue everything, but, realistically, our fits might be narrower this year, (which would) give us more time to focus on the free-agent market. "We're going to have a fairly well-defined trade market early because we don't have unlimited assets to deal and we don't necessarily have redundancy at positions in the big leagues or upper (minor league) levels."
That does leave one other option: non-tendered players. MLB Trade Rumors has helpfully listed all players they think might be non-tendered; obviously, some of these players might be signed, but I think this is a pretty good summation. I'm going to do this in groups of players at specific positions; here are all the starting pitchers on MLBTR's list (or pitchers who have started significant numbers of games in the past, even though they might have primarily been relievers in 2012). The deadline for tendering contracts is November 30.
Brad Bergesen: Here we have another former Baltimore Orioles pitcher whose name begins with "BER". Just what we need, right? Bergesen had a good rookie year for Baltimore in 2009, then two bad years, and spent 2012 as a reliever for the Diamondbacks. He's 27 and lefthanded; sometimes lefties mature later. (He's only about 18 months older than Travis Wood, for example.)
Dallas Braden: Braden hasn't pitched at all since 2011; coming off multiple injuries, he'd be a significant risk.
Edgar Gonzalez: Gonzalez pitched, mostly poorly, for the Astros at the end of 2012, and has a 5.84 career ERA. He'll be 30 around the time spring training starts; I'd pass on him.
Clay Hensley: Hensley hasn't been a rotation starter since his good rookie year in 2006. At 33, if he's non-tendered, he's probably done.
Philip Humber: Humber could go down in history as the worst-ever pitcher to throw a perfect game. Apart from that game he posted a 7.06 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. That makes Chris Volstad look good. Pass.
Tommy Hunter: What happened to this guy? He had a good year in Texas in 2010 (although he wasn't very good in the postseason that year), but since his trade to Baltimore has been mostly bad. Maybe there's something in the water in Baltimore; Hunter, at 26, might be a good risk if non-tendered.
Jair Jurrjens: We've discussed Jurrjens here before as a possible trade pickup. He's had injury problems, too, but at 27 seems like he might be a good low-cost risk to recover the numbers he had as recently as 2011.
John Lannan: We've also discussed Lannan, and I have gone on record in the past that I think the sinkerballing lefty would be a good fit at Wrigley Field. Lannan just turned 28; if non-tendered, he fits the profile of someone Theo and Jed would like -- very similar to Paul Maholm.
Charlie Morton: Morton had Tommy John surgery in June, so if the Cubs were to sign him, he might not be able to pitch until midseason. He turns 29 next week.
Manny Parra: Parra pitched exclusively in relief for the Brewers in 2012 after starting 74 games for them from 2007-2010. He just turned 30; the only reason to look at him would be because he's lefthanded.
Mike Pelfrey: The Mets are expected to non-tender Pelfrey after he missed most of 2012. He also had TJ surgery, in May. New York is thought to want him back as a reliever; if he'd be ready for the 2013 season, he might also be a low-cost, high-reward risk.
Kevin Slowey: Slowey hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2011 and was shut down with a lat injury after pitching poorly (5.14 ERA) in eight starts at Triple-A Columbus in the Indians organization in 2012... after being traded twice last offseason. He might be worth a NRI, but that's about it.
Chris Volstad: No, I am not seriously suggesting bringing Volstad back. I just found it interesting that he was put on MLBTR's list after the Royals claimed him -- meaning he could be non-tendered by Kansas City.
Jerome Williams: Well, geez. I always thought Williams had talent, back when the Cubs got him in exchange for LaTroy Hawkins in 2005. Seems like eons ago, doesn't it? Yet Williams isn't that old -- he'll be 31 next month -- and he pitched reasonably well for the Angels in 2012. Another possible low-cost, high-reward signing.
So, which, if any, of these pitchers would you consider signing? Vote in the poll.