On Wednesday, the Cubs didn't reacquire Alan Benes or Fred McGriff or Bill Mueller or Todd Hundley or even Francis Beltran, Kevin Orie, Mark Bellhorn or Robert Machado. But they did sign a teammate of the aforementioned 2002 Cubs, former 20-game winner Jon Lieber, who agreed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal and very possibly, a shot at making the Cubs' starting rotation.
Ken Rosenthal, who first reported the signing early this morning at FoxSports.com, said that according to his sources, Lieber was actually assured of a starting spot; that the assurance helped persuade Lieber to bypass richer offers from other teams and rejoin the Cubs.
Lieber said the appropriate thing when he spoke to the press:
"I'll do whatever it takes to help the Chicago Cubs win and if that's pitching out of the bullpen, so be it."
Lieber last pitched for the Cubs in July of '02, when an elbow injury ended his season--and his time with the Cubs--prematurely. The Yankees signed him as a free agent in February of '03, essentially funding his rehab following Tommy John surgery, and Lieber rewarded the Yanks by going 14-8, 4.33 in 2004.
In December 2004, Lieber signed with the Phillies and went 29-30, 4.56 in his three years as a Phil. His '07 season was cut short by a ruptured tendon in his right foot, suffered apparently in an interleague game against the Indians in June. The foot was operated on, and by October, Lieber was able to begin following his normal, off-season workout regimen.
Lieber's career record as a Cub is 48-36 over 121 starts and more than 800 IP.
That's an awful lot to have received from the Pirates in exchange for Brant Brown.