The Cubs, anxious to steal the winter and maybe the summer, too, are now pursuing star free-agent pitcher Jason Schmidt, SI.com has learned. The Cubs already have spent $239 million on free agents (including the $10 million they used for new manager Lou Piniella), and two high-ranking baseball people said they are bidding about $45 million over three years for Schmidt in attempt to lure him away from the West Coast.
It may not be easy in his case. The Yankees showed interest in Schmidt several days ago but were told that he didn't want to move all the away across the country, to New York.
The Mariners and Dodgers are seen as the favorites for Schmidt, the longtime San Francisco Giant who is from Washington state. Seattle has stated its desire to land one frontline starter, if not two. The Dodgers just signed Randy Wolf to a one-year, $8-million deal and are negotiating with Greg Maddux, who's drawing interest from San Diego, as well.
The Cubs, obviously hungry to break their streak of not winning the World Series since 1908, made the biggest score so far this winter when they signed Alfonso Soriano for $136 million over eight years. But they haven't stopped there.
Pitching is the Cubs' stated priority now, and Schmidt is one of two No. 1-type starters on the free agent market, along with left-hander Barry Zito. The Cubs have previously been reported to have interest in Gil Meche.