The Cubs added to their starting pitching depth by signing right-hander Williams Perez to a minor-league deal. The 25-year-old Venezuelan had spent his entire career in the Braves organization before he was released by the team in December.
Perez is an extreme groundball pitcher who mostly relies on his two-seam fastball. He also has a slider and a change. Perez was the 19th-ranked prospect in the Braves system before the 2015 season after a strong showing in Double-A Mississippi in 2014. He made his major-league debut on May 8, 2015 and was a mainstay of the Braves rotation the rest of that year, making 20 starts, throwing 116 2⁄3 innings and posting a record of 7-6 with a 4.78 ERA.
Perez started the 2016 season in the Braves starting rotation, but his results were poor and he may have been fighting an injury, as he went on the disabled list in June with a strained rotator cuff. He returned to the majors in September and made two more starts. His final totals for 2016 were 2-3 with a 6.04 ERA in 11 starts over 53.2 innings. The Braves released him in December to make room on their 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft.
In such cases, it is customary that the player signing a minor-league deal gets an invitation to Spring Training. But Perez will most likely serve as starting pitching insurance in Iowa this summer. The Cubs were sorely lacking in pitchers who could step into the rotation in case of a major league injury, but the recent signings of Brett Anderson, Eddie Butler, Casey Kelly and Perez addresses this problem.