The Cubs' starting rotation currently consists of: Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta and...
That sentence is not phrased in the form of a question, a la Jeopardy!, but it is a question. Do the Cubs go into spring training with those four guys and an open competition between a few guys on the 40-man roster (Chris Rusin, Brooks Raley, Dallas Beeler, Carlos Villanueva, Neil Ramirez, perhaps a couple of others), along with a handful of non-roster invitees (Kyle Hendricks, Tsuyoshi Wada)? Wada, incidentally, could be a real sleeper. He was very good in Japan, was signed by the Orioles to a two-year deal before 2012, then had Tommy John surgery. Recovered now, he turns 33 next month and would be an inexpensive option for the fifth spot in the rotation if he shows well during spring training.
Or, do they roll the dice and sign someone who's still out there as a free agent?
Here are all the starting pitchers currently on the market and unsigned as of Thursday morning, in alphabetical order:
Bronson Arroyo, Erik Bedard, A.J. Burnett, Bruce Chen, Jon Garland, Jason Hammel, Tommy Hanson, Aaron Harang, Philip Humber, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm, Jason Marquis, Roy Oswalt, Johan Santana, Joe Saunders, Jerome Williams, Barry Zito
There might be a few bargains in there, but mostly, this list is like shopping the "damaged/returns" table to see if you can find something that has nothing more than cosmetic damage (hint: you probably can't).
The purpose of this post is discussion of whether you think the Cubs will sign any of the 18 pitchers on this list. There are some who could be decent inning-eaters (Arroyo, Marquis); some who are coming off injuries and might have upside (Hanson, Maholm) and at least one who might be a huge bargain if healthy, but that's a real risk (Santana).
Tommy Hanson is real intriguing to me. He's 27, was once a top prospect, and was very good for the Braves before he got hurt. Could be an excellent buy-low guy. If I had to pick just one from this list, I think it would be him.
But my feeling is that the Cubs won't sign anyone. What do you think? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.