We all know the big-name free agents the Cubs are looking at, particularly starting pitchers.
Last week, BCB reader chapman_123 posted this list of what he thought were some “under-the-radar” guys who might help the Cubs this year.
Riffing off that, I present to you this list of 10 other free agents who I think the Cubs might want to offer a minor-league deal this season, in alphabetical order.
Long ago (well, 2009), Alburquerque was in the Cubs farm system. He was traded to the Rockies for Jeff Baker.
He had some decent relief years for the Tigers, and last year combined for the White Sox and Royals: 2.50 ERA, 1.000 WHIP in 18 innings (granted, small sample size).
He turns 32 in June (comparison point: he’s a year younger than Pedro Strop). He might still have something left.
Because why not? Seriously, he still had a decent K rate last year (8.4), though his walk rate (4.5) was up. He pitched under Jim Hickey last year in Tampa. OK, so maybe Hickey couldn’t fix him. Still, he’s entertaining, as he was five years ago when he stole a base [VIDEO] for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Here’s the kind of catcher you could stash at Triple-A in case of injury. An updated version of Koyie Hill, Ellis doesn’t hit much, but is strong defensively.
Another good-field, no-hit catcher who might be willing to play in Triple-A and wait for a callup in case of injury. He played for Joe Maddon in Tampa in 2014.
Hernandez had an excellent walk rate (1.5 per nine innings, nine total walks in 55 innings) split between the Angels and Diamondbacks in 2017. He’s also got two years’ worth of postseason experience (D-backs, 2011 and 2017).
The 33-year-old lefty doesn’t walk many (2.3 per nine innings in 2017). He did allow a lot of home runs last year, though (10 in 68 innings).
One more in the fairly large pile of catchers with good glove, no bat. Last seen being picked off in Game 5 of the division series between the Nationals and Cubs. (UPDATE: I missed the fact that Lobaton signed a minor-league deal with the Mets last month. Cross him off the list!)
Seung Hwan Oh
He was once the “next big thing” for the Cardinals’ bullpen, but lost his closer job midseason last year. He’s 35, but who knows? He might still be able to help a big-league bullpen.
Another former closer who fell on hard times early last year with the Dodgers. But once he was swapped to the Rays he was really good: 1.47 ERA, 0.848 WHIP in 30⅔ innings. He’s got 27 games of postseason experience and three World Series rings.
He won’t pitch in 2018, recovering from Tommy John surgery. He will turn 28 in May; at age 29 in 2019, he could be a contributor to the Cubs bullpen. He was an All-Star with 2.7 bWAR and 48 saves in 2015.
You’ll note that I’ve limited this list to relief pitchers and catchers; those are positions where I think the Cubs could use some veteran depth. Remember, I’m only proposing minor-league contracts with a non-roster invitation to spring training for these 10 players.
Have at it.