After missing out on starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez in free agency, the Chicago Cubs' next major decisions on their rotation will likely involve two men already on the roster, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija.
Garza just turned 29 and has one year remaining on his contract. There was some talk about trading the right-hander last season, but discussions were put on hold when Garza suffered a right elbow injury. He's slowly working back to full health, and any decision on his future will likely not be made until that happens.
As for Samardzija, the Cubs have talked about a possible extension, but it's looking like no new deal will be reached this winter. He's currently eligible for arbitration the next three seasons, so there's no real rush, but it's looking like the Cubs are prepared to make him a part of their future for a long time. Manager Dale Sveum has not named a No. 1 starter, but says Samardzija is certainly in the mix (via CSN Chicago):
"Obviously, it's a little early to announce our No. 1 starter, but he's ready to go," Sveum said during an interview at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. "The biggest thing is he can go into this season knowing that there's not that 165th inning coming up soon."
Samardzija had his best season as a pro in 2012, compiling a 3.80 ERA with 180 strikeouts in 174⅔ innings. The big right-hander was brilliant after the All-Star break, but was ultimately shut down in September to limit innings. In 2013, Samardzija is prepared to take on a leadership role and is ready to go beyond 200 innings.