Cubs, Marquis reportedly agree to deal
Right-hander was 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA, 96 strikeouts in 2006
CHICAGO -- The Cubs may have landed another starting pitcher in Jason Marquis.
According to multiple reports, Marquis has accepted a three-year offer from the Cubs. Marquis is coming off back-to-back losing seasons with the Cardinals, and was 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA in 2006. His best season was 2004, when he was 15-7 with a 3.71 ERA.
The news was first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which said the deal was worth $28 million over the three years. According to the Chicago Tribune, the contract is worth $20 million.
Cubs officials were not available for comment on Saturday. General manager Jim Hendry was in Orlando, Fla., and resting after undergoing an angioplasty Wednesday night. He was not expected back in Chicago until Sunday.
Pitching has been the Cubs' top priority lately, and they did agree to terms last week with left-hander Ted Lilly, pending a physical, which was expected to be completed this week. That will take care of one spot in the rotation.
Marquis got a head start on a possible Cubs connection by meeting with pitching coach Larry Rothschild after the Cardinals' successful World Series.
"Jason called me shortly after they got done with the World Series and asked me if he could come down and throw," Rothschild told WGN Radio on Friday night. "He'd talked to [Greg] Maddux during the season and [Maddux] recommended that if he had a chance to let me see him."
Maddux and Marquis were teammates in Atlanta. Marquis threw once for Rothschild, and the two talked pitching mechanics.
"One thing you could tell was that his arm is healthy," Rothschild said. "He has the arm strength. I'm not sure what happened in St. Louis last year -- I have some ideas as I think a lot of people do -- but I think it was a little bit of a confidence thing. There were a couple games when he had a rough time and I think it snowballed on him."
Marquis was 11-6 with a 5.55 ERA in the first half of the season, but went 3-10 with a 6.72 ERA in the second half. Teams hit .267 against him in those first 18 starts, and batted .321 in his final 15 starts.
Rothschild said he knew the Cubs had interest in the 28-year-old right-hander, who has a composite 56-52 record and 4.55 ERA with Atlanta and St. Louis.
"He's a guy who has pitched 200 innings over a few years, and has had a lot of success," Rothschild said. "He's a guy who's done it, and seems to be healthy and we can use the innings.
"You can look at him and see that he's a guy capable of doing that," Rothschild said. "If we get him and he does those things for us, we could have a good year."
As for Lilly, Rothschild told WGN Radio that the left-hander could be on the "upswing of his career." The pitching coach was waiting for videotapes so he could get a head start analyzing the pitcher.
Rothschild also said Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were doing well in their offseason rehab programs, adding that Wood was close to throwing off the mound. The right-hander is coming back from a partial tear in his right rotator cuff, and had opted not to have surgery.
"We'll know more in Spring Training," Rothschild said. "The proof will be when they get some innings in and, in Kerry's case, probably throwing back to back a little bit and really getting off the mound again and making sure he can handle everything. With Mark, we want to see if he can get back to where he was a couple years ago."
Prior struggled with his right shoulder, and was limited to nine starts in 2006.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.