Cubs to consider pitching for Rule 5 Draft

Cubs to consider pitching for Rule 5 Draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Cubs may select a player in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, especially if they can find a pitcher who can give them more depth.

The Draft will take place on the final day of baseball's Winter Meetings, and start at 8 a.m. CT at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. The Cubs have the final pick of the first round.

Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player does not stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000. The last Cubs' pick in this Draft was Hector Rondon in 2012.

The Cubs are looking ahead. Among the pitchers who will be free agents after the 2017 season are Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Pedro Strop, Brian Duensing and Wade Davis.

The Cubs acquired Davis from the Royals on Wednesday in exchange for outfielder Jorge Soler, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the team is still looking at free-agent pitchers on the market but would consider short-term deals.

One concern for the Cubs is making sure they have enough starting pitching options in case someone is hurt. This past season, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill and Adam Warren were the backups. Cahill and Warren made one start each.

The candidates on the roster heading into 2017 include Rob Zastryzny, Jake Buchanan, Aaron Brooks and Seth Frankoff, whom the Cubs signed to a Minor League deal in mid-November. All four are expected to be in the Triple-A Iowa rotation at the start of 2017.

"We're looking for guys to be starters for the future for us and to be the [No.] six through [No.] 10 starters that we know we'll have to lean on during the season," Epstein said.

What if ...

If the Cubs had lost Game 7 to the Indians, would they be approaching the offseason any differently? Epstein said no.

"The Wade Davis move is an aggressive move," he said. "It's not a hedge or a cautious move. We traded a longer-term asset for a short-term asset. If you do that, you have to make sure the short-term asset is an impact one. That was the case with [Aroldis] Chapman, and that's now the case with Davis. I see that as an aggressive move, the move by an organization that's hungry to win a World Series."

Future tense

Arrieta is one of four Cubs who are arbitration-eligible; his agent, Scott Boras, said they'd be willing to discuss a long-term contract.

"Our attitude is that we're open to listening to anyone, to the Cubs, on anything they choose to do with Jake," Boras said on Wednesday. "Like we did last year, we will evaluate it. Our doors are open to listen to what they have to say.

"It's something where if Theo and [general manager Jed Hoyer] want to talk to us about it, we'd be happy to. ... Normally, these things come up in January when we are talking arbitration-eligible players and what they are going to do with them."

Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner, went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts in 2016.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.