The Chicago Cubs continued their efforts to improve the starting pitching rotation on Tuesday as the team signed another free agent starting pitcher. Entering the off-season, the Chicago Cubs had, at the most, three starting pitchers in their rotation for the 2013 season. Those starting pitchers are Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, and potentially Travis Wood. With that in mind, the Cubs set out this winter to acquire at least two starting pitchers. Earlier in the 0ff-season, the Cubs signed rehabbing starting pitcher Scott Baker to the starting rotation. Baker is a starting pitcher that is looking for an opportunity to re-establish himself as an effective starting pitcher in Major League Baseball.
The trend continued with the starting pitcher that the Cubs signed on Tuesday. The Cubs announced on Tuesday that they have signed free agent starting pitcher Scott Feldman to a one year deal. The 29 year old Feldman has spent his entire seven year career with the Texas Rangers. In 2012 with the Rangers, Feldman struggled as the pitcher posted an ERA of 5.09 while appearing in 29 games (21 starts). Feldman’s best season in the Major Leagues came in 2009 when the pitcher posted an ERA of 4.08 while making 31 starts for the Rangers.
Throughout his tenure with the Rangers, Feldman has spent time as both a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher. That will not be the case with the Cubs. Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters that Feldman was signed to be a starting pitcher for the Cubs. Meaning that the Cubs’ starting rotation to begin the 2013 season may be set. The rotation to begin the 2o13 season for the Cubs figures to be Garza, Samardzija, Wood, Baker, and Feldman. That will not be the same rotation at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Arodys Vizcaino figures to be ready to return from Tommy John surgery at some point during the 2013 season, when that happens, Vizcaino is likely going to be inserted into the starting rotation. Feldman and Baker can not be traded until after June 16, but the main trading chip in the Cubs’ rotation figures to be Garza.
Feldman’s contract with the Cubs is worth $6 million plus incentives. Like with Baker, many have speculated that the Cubs will spin off Feldman to a contending team at some point before the July 31 trade deadline. I don’t believe that to be the case with Feldman, at least not yet. Feldman likely will be a project for the Cubs’ coaching staff. The idea may be for Feldman to prove during the 2013 season that he can indeed be an effective starting pitcher. If that happens, the Cubs will be in an ideal position next off-season where they can either decide to trade Feldman for prospects, or extend his contract if the team feels he will contribute to the next Cubs’ contending team.