Cubs add Feldman to rotation on one-year deal
Former Rangers right-hander attracted at chance to be full-time starter
CHICAGO -- The Cubs added one more starter to the mix, signing right-hander Scott Feldman on Tuesday to a one-year, $6 million deal that includes another $1 million in incentives.
Feldman, 29, is the second free-agent starter signed by the Cubs this month, joining Scott Baker, who agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million deal on Nov. 13. The two will join Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Travis Wood in the Cubs' rotation, but general manager Jed Hoyer said they may not be done shopping.
"We're still going to look for talent," Hoyer said. "If that talent is in the rotation, then we wouldn't consider ourselves done and we'd certainly add someone else."
Feldman has pitched all or part of the last eight seasons with the Rangers, going 39-44 with a 4.81 ERA in 204 appearances, 101 as a starter. He made 20 or more starts in four of the last five seasons while also making 30 relief appearances in that span. He pitched exclusively in relief his first three seasons before transitioning into a starting role in 2008.
One of the reasons the Cubs were so attractive to the right-hander was the chance to start full time.
"That was definitely something I've wanted to do my whole career, and for them to give me the go-ahead on that and let me know that was in their plans from the get-go was something that immediately made me interested in coming here," Feldman said.
His best season was 2009, when Feldman went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 34 appearances, including a career-high 31 starts. That year, he ranked among American League leaders in wins and winning percentage while setting a single-season franchise record with 12 wins on the road.
"I'm pretty confident I can get back to that level of success," Feldman said. "That was the year when everything started clicking for me. It was the first time in my career I was getting regular work in the starting rotation and got into a groove.
"I got a lot of confidence getting out there every five days and knowing what my routine would be. I think judging from that season compared to the season I just went through, I feel I'm a better pitcher now. The results [in 2012] were a mixed bag for me -- I had some good, some bad. I think confidence-wise in all my pitches, I'm able to do more now than I was in 2009. I hope the results will show that."
The Rangers' Opening Day starter in 2010, Feldman went 7-11 with a 5.48 ERA in 29 appearances (22 starts), then missed the first half of 2011 after undergoing right knee surgery. This past season, Feldman went 6-11 with a 5.09 ERA in 29 outings (21 starts). The Rangers declined their 2013 option for Feldman, choosing a $600,000 buyout instead of paying him $9.25 million.
"I think part of why he agreed to a one-year deal is that he has a lot of confidence in himself and felt like, 'Hey, I know I can pitch better than I did last year and I can potentially use that as a springboard,'" Hoyer said. "He showed a lot of confidence in wanting a one-year deal.
"I think last year, if you look inside his numbers, the numbers were not what he probably hoped, but they were pretty misleading. If you look at his ratios and different underlying numbers, he's one of the most unlucky pitchers in the game last year. While it wasn't his best year, it certainly wasn't nearly as bad as the ERA on the page says it was."
His outings varied from a rough start against the Athletics on June 4, when he gave up eight runs over 1 2/3 innings to eight shutout innings against the White Sox on July 29 in Texas.
"We always liked his stuff," Hoyer said. "He gets ground balls, he's got a really good walk-to-strikeout ratio and he's pitched in a very difficult environment. He pitched in the American League and pitched in Texas and that's hard. We felt he was a guy, given his stuff, given his age and given the ability to come to the National League and not pitch in Texas, we felt it was a great opportunity for us to add a quality arm."
Feldman said the Cubs' record last season and the fact that the organization is still rebuilding didn't deter him. He cited the Athletics and Orioles as teams that surprised everyone in 2012. All he wants to do is pitch, and the Cubs assured him he will start. That sold him.
"In the end, the Cubs were like a dream scenario for me," Feldman said. "Getting to play for an organization with that type of history and in a city like Chicago with the great fans, I think it'll be a good situation."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.