The Chicago Cubs could add some big-name pitchers with big pay days still ahead of them.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told beat reporters that the Cubs will add starting pitching to the mix in their pursuit to improve on a 101-loss season. The Miami Marlins are hoping to dump some of their high salary pitching contracts as part of their new approach going forward, according to major league sources.
Sources indicate that pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are on the trading block this offseason. Johnson's contract appears to fit into the Cubs' short-term plans. The 28-year-old pitcher has one year remaining on a long-term contract at $ 13.750 million for 2013. The Marlins will look for younger prospects and as much payroll relief they can get in each deal they make.
The Cubs have $50 million coming off their 2012 payroll commitments. It appears they will be willing to add contracts such as Johnson's due to the flexibility of his current status. He will be eligible for free agency after 2013.
Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer are looking for quality pitchers that they can either sign to long-term deals or flip before the July 31 trading deadline for other potential pitching prospects.
The sources indicated that the Marlins would approach the Cubs and other teams with the payroll flexibility to take on most of the money owed on the contracts for Buehrle and Johnson.
Johnson was 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA in 2012. The 6-foot-7 pitcher has a 56-37 lifetime record with a 3.15 ERA with the Marlins. His best season was 2009 when he went 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA in 33 starts.
Buehrle's contract is much more problematic than Johnson's. The former White Sox star has a back-loaded deal that pays him $11 million in 2013, $18 million in 2014 and $19 million in 2015. Buehrle will be 34 in March.