DENVER – Jacob Turner looks like the next change-of-scenery pitcher the Cubs will try to fix.
The Cubs got the waiver claim on Turner, industry sources confirmed Wednesday, though a deal with the Miami Marlins hadn’t been finalized yet. But it would certainly fit the vision for Theo Epstein’s front office, allowing the Cubs to trade from a deep farm system tilted toward position players and take a chance on another talented, inconsistent pitcher.
Turner has the first-round pedigree. The Detroit Tigers drafted him ninth overall in 2009 out of Westminster Christian Academy (St. Louis), giving him a major-league contract and a $4.7 million signing bonus. Baseball America ranked him as the industry’s No. 22 overall prospect after the 2011 season.
Turner, a 23-year-old right-hander, could work with pitching coach Chris Bosio and take advantage of the pitching infrastructure that’s helped Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Scott Feldman take their games to the next level – and ultimately get traded.
But the Cubs understand they can’t keep flipping and will need frontline guys to join Jake Arrieta at the top of the rotation, making pitching their No. 1 priority. Epstein made that clear after promoting elite prospect Javier Baez, putting him in front of middle-of-the-order hitters Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro.
Turner’s name had once been rumored while the Cubs were shopping Matt Garza and talking with Detroit. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has a reputation for selling high on prospects and making blockbuster deals.
The Tigers used Turner as a trade chip, sending him to the Marlins in the July 2012 deal that landed Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, helping them get to the World Series.
The Marlins designated Turner for assignment on Tuesday after shifting him between the bullpen and the rotation this year, watching him go 4-7 with a 5.97 ERA. He made his major-league debut in 2011 and had run out of minor-league options.
The Cubs have already acquired Dan Straily and Felix Doubront for depth this summer. Straily won 10 games and made 27 starts for the Oakland A’s last season but fell out of favor with Billy Beane’s front office. Doubront earned a World Series ring with the Boston Red Sox last year but wasn’t happy pitching out of the bullpen.
The Miami Herald quoted Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who didn’t give a glowing review of Turner: “It just came to a point where he wasn’t getting any better, wasn’t showing any improvement and we felt we couldn’t do anything more to help him.”