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Arm team: Cubs stock up on pitchers at WM

Chicago adds Morrow, Smyly, Cishek
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs' focus this offseason has been pitching, and they stuck to their wish list at the Winter Meetings.

Before they arrived for the Meetings, the Cubs signed starter Tyler Chatwood to a three-year, $38 million deal, and signed lefty reliever Dario Alvarez. This week, they signed potential closer Brandon Morrow to a two-year, $21 million contract and took a step toward the future by signing starter Drew Smyly, who underwent Tommy John surgery last July and was not expected to pitch until late in 2018.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs' focus this offseason has been pitching, and they stuck to their wish list at the Winter Meetings.

Before they arrived for the Meetings, the Cubs signed starter Tyler Chatwood to a three-year, $38 million deal, and signed lefty reliever Dario Alvarez. This week, they signed potential closer Brandon Morrow to a two-year, $21 million contract and took a step toward the future by signing starter Drew Smyly, who underwent Tommy John surgery last July and was not expected to pitch until late in 2018.

Morrow told MLB Network Radio that he may be the closer if the Cubs don't add another pitcher.

Hot Stove Tracker

"We talked about different scenarios," Morrow said of his conversations with the Cubs. "There's nothing set in stone. They obviously had a guy [Wade Davis] last year that they would love to get back. It all depends what happens there.

"Any team that Wade Davis plays for, he is going to make them better," Morrow said. "I'd have no problem setting up for him. If it goes the other way and he takes off somewhere, I have no problem closing. Either scenario is good for me."

Video: Morrow brings his blazing fastball to Chicago

On the last day of the Meetings, the Cubs added one more piece to the bullpen by agreeing to a two-year deal with right-handed reliever Steve Cishek. That contract was made official on Saturday.

"You see it turning into a bullpen kind of game and especially when it gets to the last several games of the year," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "You're not winning that last game of the season without that great bullpen."

Video: Maddon on Cubs' efforts to bolster their bullpen

What's next
While the Cubs are talking to Davis' agent about a possible return, they have to balance that with their need for another starting pitcher. Chatwood will be inserted in the back end of the rotation after Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana, and the in-house candidates aren't as strong.

New pitching coach Jim Hickey should feel right at home. The Cubs have already added Smyly, who pitched for the Rays, as did Cishek. There have been reports linking the Cubs to free agent Alex Cobb, who was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts for Tampa Bay.

Video: Maddon on new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey

Rule 5 Draft
The Cubs did not select any players in either the Major League or Minor League phases of the Rule 5 Draft, but they did lose four players. Right-handed pitcher Pedro Araujo, 24, who spent most of last season at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, posting a 1.81 ERA in 44 games, was selected by the Orioles in the Major League phase of the draft. In the Minor League phase, the Mets picked second baseman Andrew Ely, the Astros took left-handed pitcher Chris Nunn, and the Blue Jays selected catcher Alberto Mineo. All were on Double-A Tennessee's roster.

GM's Bottom line
"We didn't have to come here desperate. We could come here and be selectively aggressive, which is how we like to operate. We're feeling good about where we are despite the fact there's a lot more work to be done." -- president of baseball operations Theo Epstein

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.

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