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Cubs sign LHP Danny Hultzen to minor-league deal

Repeat after me: “Low risk, possible high reward.”

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Hey, at least there’s some Cubs news, even if it’s not the news you want.

Danny Hultzen was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft, by the Mariners — right after Gerrit Cole, and seven picks ahead of Javier Baez.

Injuries ruined his early progress and he nearly quit, but decided to give baseball one more shot. The Cubs signed him to a minor-league deal in the spring of 2018. He pitched briefly in the system that year, then had 14 outstanding outings at Triple-A Iowa in 2019, where he struck out 23 in 14⅓ innings.

That got him a callup to the big leagues and he made his MLB debut September 8 at Miller Park. Memorably, after hitting Christian Yelich and allowing a single to Ben Gamel, he struck out the side:

Hultzen wound up making six appearances for the Cubs covering 3⅓ innings. He walked two, struck out five and allowed no runs. He was non-tendered December 2, but it was always thought the Cubs would bring him back on a non-roster deal.

Today, that happened:

The Cubs will offer Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft who finally made his major-league debut in September, a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training as a non-roster invitee, sources told the Tribune.

Hultzen isn’t young — he’s 30, just a few months younger than Anthony Rizzo — but the talent that made him the No. 2 overall pick in 2011 still shows. He’d have been a perfect candidate to be a LOOGY-type pitcher a few years ago, but with the new three-batter minimum, he’s likely going to have to figure out how to retire hitters from both sides of the plate if he wants to stick in the big leagues.

As far as I can tell, Hultzen has no options remaining, so he couldn’t be one of those pitchers shuttled back and forth to Triple-A Iowa in 2020. He’s going to have to be good enough to make the team to stick around. Still, this is yet another worthwhile minor-league signing. Easy guy to root for after sticking around through eight years’ worth of injuries to make it to the big leagues.

I wish him luck. Interesting footnote regarding Hultzen:


Danny Hultzen!

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