The Chicago Cubs kicked the tires on a potentially aggressive move this past week when they attempted to add left-handed starting pitcher Cole Hamels to the top of their rotation for the next number of years.
Those talks did not go anywhere and the Philadelphia Phillies decided to pull Hamels back off waivers, but the philosophy behind the move will be significant this off-season. With a number of top starting pitchers hitting free agency, guys like James Shields, Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer, the Cubs are believed to be a team that will make a run at adding an ace.
That belief has been emerging for a while now, and it sounds like executives around the league are starting to see indications that it will be the case as well. Buster Olney of ESPN writes that the attempted deal for Hamels, while nothing came of it, serves as a signal that Cubs’ general manager Theo Espstein plans to be aggressive in his pursuit of frontline starting pitching this winter (subscription required).
As far as how those candidates will pan out this off-season, it seems like Lester might be the most likely target for the Cubs. Epstein has a relationship with Lester dating back to their time together in Boston. Shields would bring an appealing measure of stability with his ability to eat innings, while Scherzer would bring some more flash if he was the guy.
Each could be a fit for the Cubs with their payroll options, but the combination of factors will make Lester the guy to watch if the Cubs get in the mix in free agency.
Tags: Chicago Cubs