The Cubs have five starters tentatively pencilled into their 2011 rotation, but given the number of question marks on that staff, it's understandable that the team is looking to add a veteran innings-eater to the fold. ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill reports that Chicago has "shown interest" in Jeremy Bonderman, Aaron Harang, Kevin Millwood and Javier Vazquez, and also cites a Chicago Sun-Times item connecting the team to Vicente Padilla. Churchill says the Cubs "kicked the tires on" Jon Garland before the right-hander signed with the Dodgers.
All five starters would make sense as low-cost additions; Vazquez has reportedly turned down a two-year, $20MM offer but it seems like he's more likely to end up in Florida or Washington than in Chicago. The Cubs are probably looking for a short-term deal, and Garland's $5MM pact with L.A. would likely be a good comparison point. That $5M salary (plus incentives and a 2012 vesting option) would likely be enough to land Millwood or Harang, and Bonderman would leap at that offer given his injury-riddled recent history.
Padilla is coming off the most solid season of the group and could command a bit more money or a second year, though he made only 16 starts in 2010 due to various nagging injuries. Churchill cites the Mets, Padres and Pirates as other teams that could use a starter that fits Padilla's profile.
Bonderman, Millwood and Vazquez all landed on Luke Adams' list of free agent pitchers that could benefit from a move to the NL, though pitching in a hitter-friendly park like Wrigley Field might not be what they had in mind. As we saw with the Garland signing, teams that play in pitcher's parks will have an advantage in finding extra arms for their rotation, especially when it comes to a pitchers like Bonderman or Harang who are trying to rebuild value.
Speaking of rebuilding value, there's also a chance that the Cubs could look at a higher-ceiling starter such as Brandon Webb. Fanhouse's Ed Price hears from a source that Chicago is "seriously considering" Webb. The former Cy Young Award winner has also drawn interest from several other teams, but the Cubs could be helped by the fact that Chicago is relatively close to Webb's home in Kentucky.