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Puppies on the lookout for more pitching at baseball winter meetings

The Cubs have shown great ability to hit big in winter baseball meetings, as they did in December 2014 when they hired free left-handed agent Jon Lester to a six-year, $ 155 million contract.

can attack quickly, as they did a year later when they hired Ben Zobrist for a four-year contract for $ 60 million and redeemed infielder Starlin Castro in less than two hours.

But after a strike of meetings before winter On Thursday with the signature of pitcher Tyler Chatwood, President Theo Epstein will try not to get caught up in the "frantic atmosphere" at the annual meeting that begins on Sunday in Orlando, Florida .

"It's important to remember that and take a step back and not get caught up, especially in a moment, and try to recreate your own decision-making processes," Epstein said.

Even with the Chatwood signing that fills the role of the late John Lackey, the Cubs still need more initial pitches – and especially with the likelihood that Jake Arrieta will sign for greater riches and safety elsewhere.

They would not mind paying a $ 20 million publishing fee to the Nippon Ham Fighters by Shohei Ohtani. The 23-year-old Japanese star, a right-handed pitcher and left-handed outfielder, selected the Cubs as one of his seven finalists, although they are the only ones located east of the Mississippi River.

Right-ahead Alex Cobb, 30, who pitched for manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey with the Rays, remains on the Cubs' short list but is entertaining the interest of several teams.

The Cubs would like to sign closer to Wade Davis, who had 32 saves and a 2.30 ERA last season. But Davis, 32, will probably have a multi-year contract for around $ 15 million annually. Maddon has handled bullpen with more than one closer, and the Cubs need multiple relievers to replace Hector Rondon and probably Davis.

Epstein said the Cubs have "some financial flexibility" but will oversee the construction of the 2018 team and "one." the future too. "

The latter is important, especially with a solid free agent market next winter that probably has players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

The Cubs are also giving more importance to the control pitchers because their relievers Last season, 264 batters walked, the fourth highest total in the National League, which is why right-hander Brandon Morrow, who has close experience and walked just 1.9 batters for every nine innings with the Dodgers in 2017, is an option. Other free agents with exceptional control are Brandon Kintzler, who has walked 2.2 in nine innings during his career, and left-hander Jake McGee, who pitched for Maddon and Hickey with the Rays.

Even if the Cubs do not They do it Another big surprise in the meetings is that they could lay the foundations for future agreements, as was the case in January 2015 when they acquired the first batea Dexter Fowler of the Astros.

The Cubs and Rays have explored players closely, from right-handed starters Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi to the Rays for shortstop Addison Russell and infielder Javier Baez.

Youngsters Kyle Schwarber, 24, and Ian Happ, 23, may also be targets for interested teams, with Schwarber potentially helping the American League team in need of a left-handed hitter and Happ's versatility as Second base and outfielder make it an attractive option.

The management of the Cubs understood the low season 2017-18 would be one of the most challenging, and the process might seem as daunting as the search for a constant dispute that began in 2012.

mgonzales @ chicagotribune .com

Twitter @MDGonzales

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