The Cubs signed two righthanders off the scrap heap Friday.
They spent $6 million (plus $1 million of incentives) for ex-Ray, Rockie and Oriole Jason Hammel.
They spent virtually nothing -- a minor-league deal with a non-roster invitation to spring training -- on another righthander with possibly even more upside than Hammel:
Source-Cubs sign Pitcher James McDonald to minor league deal pending physical. Also invite to Major League camp.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 31, 2014
In some ways, I like this signing a lot more than the Hammel signing. Hammel had some elbow issues in 2013 and according to Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs:
The injury Hammel had last season is often a precursor for Tommy John surgery, and though Hammel opted to rest before things got that bad, you never know if he might be in trouble.
McDonald, too, was injured in 2013. This is from late June, 2013:
McDonald will see Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas on Tuesday for confirmation of diagnosis of the source of his shoulder discomfort by team doctors. McDonald declined to disclose that diagnosis, characterizing it as premature.
McDonald is two years younger than Hammel and, when healthy, was a better pitcher. Plus, he doesn't cost $6 million. If McDonald is healthy during spring training, I hope he gets a shot at the starting rotation. If not, he just gets released, with little or no money spent.
This is a very good, low-cost, high-possible-reward move. Nicely done.