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Five non-tendered pitchers Cubs could target

@MLBastian
December 3, 2019

CHICAGO -- With less than a week remaining until the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the Cubs still have a considerable list of needs to address. Now, there is a flood of new free agents for Chicago and the rest of baseball to examine. On Monday, there were 56 players

CHICAGO -- With less than a week remaining until the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the Cubs still have a considerable list of needs to address. Now, there is a flood of new free agents for Chicago and the rest of baseball to examine.

On Monday, there were 56 players non-tendered around the Majors, sending them into the free-agent pool. None will be blockbuster signings -- injury questions, financial aspects or diminished production typically lead to a non-tender -- but there are plenty of intriguing players suddenly available.

The Cubs are looking for ways to improve their lineup (second base and center field, specifically), but the team also is in need of both depth and impact additions for the pitching staff. With the latter in mind, here are five pitchers who were non-tendered who could be potential fits for the Cubs:

1. Blake Treinen, RHP
Treinen is one of the most intriguing free agents on the market, so the Cubs will surely be checking in on the asking price. In 2018, Treinen rode his turbo sinker to an All-Star appearance and a sixth-place finish in the American League Cy Young Award voting. He had a 0.78 ERA with 100 strikeouts against 21 walks in 80 1/3 innings (68 games) as Oakland's closer.

While earning $6.4 million in 2019, Treinen had a 4.91 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 37 walks in 58 2/3 innings (57 games). The 31-year-old righty still averaged 96.5 mph on his sinker, per Statcast, but saw his command slip, especially with the four-seamer and slider. His expected cost via arbitration, combined with last year's production, led the A's to cut ties with the hard-throwing righty.

As things currently stand, the Cubs have Craig Kimbrel in place as their closer and then a lot of question marks throughout the rest of the bullpen. Chicago has some arms projected for roles (Kyle Ryan, Rowan Wick and Tyler Chatwood) and some interesting in-house candidates. But the Cubs could use some more depth, and Treinen is experienced and could be poised for a strong comeback campaign.

2. Kevin Gausman, RHP
The Cubs not only need bullpen depth, but they are in the market for rotation help, too. Chicago is not expected to be in play for the top-end free agents like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, and it could even be financially tricky to make a strong play for the next tier of arms. While Chicago will explore ways to add an impact starter, taking a flyer on someone like Gausman could make sense, too.

Last year, Gausman, who turns 29 in January, posted a 5.72 ERA with 114 strikeouts against 32 walks in 102 1/3 innings (17 starts and 14 relief outings) between the Braves and Reds. While the ERA took a hit, both the average pitch velocity and spin rates on his four-seamer, splitter and slider increased in 2019. Gausman's rate stats (hits, walks and homers per nine innings) were also in line with his career track record. In '18, he had a 3.92 ERA in 31 starts for the Orioles and Braves.

3. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
The Cubs have a history of taking on reclamation projects. Chicago already did so this offseason with the acquisition of righty Jharel Cotton, who has dealt with injuries for the past two years. Sanchez, 27, had a tough season (5.89 ERA in 27 starts with Blue Jays and Astros) end with shoulder surgery in 2019. He isn't expected to be ready for the start of '20, but he could be a solid in-season addition for the team that signs him. In '16, Sanchez went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA as an All-Star and an AL Cy Young Award contender for Toronto, but he has posted a 5.29 ERA in 55 starts over the past three seasons combined.

4. Junior Guerra, RHP
Chicago needs bullpen depth, and finding experienced arms with even splits would be beneficial as MLB prepares to adopt the new three-batter-minimum rule. While Guerra will be 35 in January, the righty posted impressive numbers last year for Milwaukee. He held righties to a .206 average (.641 OPS) and limited lefties to a .178 average (.629 OPS). Both Guerra's four-seamer and two-seamer averaged north of 94 mph, per Statcast, and he induced grounders at a 43.4 percent clip.

5. Jason Adam, RHP
The 2019 sample size for the 28-year-old Adam was not big (21 2/3 innings), but the righty posted some impressive numbers both on and below the surface. He had a 2.91 ERA in 23 appearances, though with some command issues (11 percent walk rate). Adam did, however, average 94.4 mph on his four-seamer with an elite spin rate. Per Statcast, the average spin (2,580 rpm) on his heater in 2019 ranked 13th out of 517 pitchers with at least 100 results. If Adam can harness that pitch, combined with his curve and changeup, he could be a good under-the-radar signing for a team in need of relief help.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.