LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Chicago Cubs are looking to add more than one starting pitcher -- which may become necessary if workhorse Jeff Samardzija is traded.
"We could well sign more than one starter," general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, shortly before Rakuten Golden Eagles President Yozo Tachibana told reporters he was undecided on whether to post pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and expressed disappointment Major League Baseball has proposed a maximum posting fee of $20 million for the right to negotiate with Japanese free agents.
While the Tanaka situation continues to drag out, one potential destination for Samardzija could have disappeared after the Diamondbacks traded pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs to the Angels in a three-team trade also involving the White Sox.
The Cubs met with the agent for Scott Baker, who didn't pitch until September because of a lengthy recovery from reconstructive right elbow surgery that was performed before the Cubs signed him to a one-year deal last winter.
The Cubs' projected 2014 rotation currently is left-hander Travis Wood, mercurial Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta and perhaps Chris Rusin, Carlos Villanueva and Samardzija -- who could address the Cubs' need for power pitching prospects if he's traded.
One American League scout insisted the Blue Jays, with plenty of young pitching depth, remain a strong possibility for Samardzija.
The Cubs could revisit talks with the Diamondbacks to see if there are any potential matches, but the trades of Skaggs and center fielder Adam Eaton (to the Sox) eliminate two needs for the Cubs.
New manager Rick Renteria said Samardzija is excited about his prospects to stay with the Cubs, based on a recent conversation.
"He came off a high strikeout year last year, a lot of innings, and he's looking at continuing to build on that, as we are," Renteria said. "And the club, with him on it, obviously is much better."
Meanwhile, the club continues its search for relief help. The Nationals' signing of left-handed hitting outfielder Nate McLouth hurt the Cubs' attempts to land reliever Drew Storen since left-handed hitting outfielder Nate Schierholtz would have been offered, according to a scouting source.
Closer Kyuji Fujikawa, whom the Cubs signed to a two-year contract before the 2013 season, is expected to miss at least the first month while recovering from reconstructive right elbow surgery. The Cubs have talked to the agent for free agent John Axford, but Hoyer said the Cubs would be content if they entered spring training with in-house options.
"You want instant gratification at the meetings, but we have no deals pending or about to happen right now," Hoyer said after a day of meetings with agents, opposing executives and staff members. "But we've laid the groundwork, and we'll keep doing that."
As for the rest of the roster, Renteria didn't name a leadoff batter but is aware of Starlin Castro's history and wanted to talk to him in person before making any decisions. Castro batted only .245 last season but seemed invigorated when moved to the leadoff spot in late August.
Renteria has devoted much time to constructing spring training plans with bench coach Brandon Hyde, the former player development director who is familiar with many of the players Renteria will oversee.
"I spoke to a lot of people before he actually became our bench coach, and he was spoken of quite highly," Renteria said. "And when I spoke to him, I could see why."
Renteria said he will later review potential lineups with Hyde, but he stressed that he wants his players to execute fundamentals in a sound manner without the feeling of a boot camp while stressing that his players hustle at all times.
"If you're trying to do something that's correct, it shouldn't feel like a burden," Renteria said. "The reality is it's something you're supposed to do.
"The question is how do we present it so it doesn't seem like a boot camp? That's a different question altogether. And there are ways of articulating it."
Renteria said he didn't have a long list of rules for the team.
"They're young men who have responsibilities," Renteria said.
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