Without the promise this winter of serious reinforcements from the free agent market, the Cubs might already have most of their 2014 rotation in-house.
Assuming he’s back for a third year running the show, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he sees at least five candidates in the mix right now, including three locked in: All-Star Travis Wood, $52-million man Edwin Jackson and Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija
Make that four, with big-arm right-hander Jake Arrieta.
“Right now if you’re looking at it, you’re looking at a fifth spot [being open] because we have four already pretty much locked up for next year,” Sveum said Tuesday.
Tuesday’s starter, left-hander Chris Rusin, lasted just 2 1/3 in his final start of the year but finished the season with 187 1/3 combined at AAA and the majors (3.93 ERA in 66 1/3 big-league innings).
And Sveum said Rusin has earned a shot at joining the battle for a spot in the opening rotation. Other in-house candidates include possibly Cubs minor-league pitcher of the year Kyle Hendricks and maybe Tommy John graduate Scott Baker if he sticks around on a gratitude discount.
Plus, whatever inventory is added from the outside this winter.
“Obviously, we’re going to go in like we did last spring training and have about eight guys for the depth and all that,” Sveum said.
Rusin said he feels like he improved this year and looks forward to competing for a job out of camp next spring (see video).