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Cubs continuing to explore rotation options

Internal candidate Montgomery might again be in 'pen
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs know Mike Montgomery wants to start, but they are still in the market for another starting pitcher.

"[Montgomery] knows we think he can do both," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday of the lefty, who was 5-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 14 starts and compiled a 2.49 ERA in 30 relief appearances last season.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs know Mike Montgomery wants to start, but they are still in the market for another starting pitcher.

"[Montgomery] knows we think he can do both," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday of the lefty, who was 5-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 14 starts and compiled a 2.49 ERA in 30 relief appearances last season.

"His day will come. This might not be one of those times."

Montgomery will be stretched out as a starter in Spring Training but is projected for the bullpen when the regular season begins. There was a report on Tuesday that Montgomery wanted to start or be traded, and Epstein said he would talk to the pitcher after the Winter Meetings end. Epstein didn't expect any problems with the left-hander.

"I believe in Mike Montgomery," Epstein said. "He's a team player. He's a member of this organization in good standing and has added to our culture. You want the best for your players and to fulfill all their hopes and their ambitions, and you want their careers to go the way they want them to."

The Cubs continue to explore their options.

Video: Cubs add free agents Brandon Morrow and Drew Smyly

"I think the starting market is a little slower to develop both in free agency and in trades," Epstein said. "We're going to be patient. We continue to look to add pitching in the bullpen and in the rotation."

Epstein did meet with free agent Wade Davis' agent about the possibility of the right-hander returning to the Cubs. However, that may be unrealistic because of the money Davis will likely command on the market. The Cubs already have signed starter Tyler Chatwood and reliever Brandon Morrow, who is expected to be the closer.

• The Winter Meetings wrap up on Thursday with the Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs have the 24th pick. The 40-man roster is at 37.

"It's a pretty strong class this year overall," Epstein said. "We may or may not take somebody. It depends on how realistic it fits."

• The Cardinals added to the outfield Wednesday when they acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins.

"He's a great player and it's a strong trade for them," Epstein said. "We expected the Cardinals to have a huge offseason. They're positioned really well with a strong farm system and a lot of movable parts and lots of payroll flexibility coming off the last three years where we beat them in the playoffs in '15 and they haven't made it the last two years.

"They're an incredible franchise, they always field a strong team. We felt this would be the offseason where they make a lot of big moves to get better and try to change the script. That's what makes it a great rivalry. We've been fully prepared for them to have a huge offseason knowing how well positioned they are."

The Cubs do keep a close eye on what their Central Division rivals do.

"We have to remind ourselves to not be reactionary and do what's best for the Cubs and put a team on the field that can compete for a World Series and have sustained success, and that's what we're here to do," Epstein said.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Mike Montgomery