Today the Chicago Cubs theoretically (been using that word a lot lately) recouped some of their marginal infield depth by claiming infielder Jeff Bianchi off waivers from the Royals.

Bianchi, 25, was dumped by the Royals on November 30 to make room for reliever Jonathan Broxton. He was a second round pick in 2005, and showed promise, but for a number of injuries that largely derailed his career. He lost the 2010 season to reconstructive elbow surgery (Tommy John surgery), and almost all of the 2006 season to a torn labrum. Dude couldn’t catch a break.

Before the elbow surgery, Bianchi had established himself as a decent hitter in the low minors – .300ish/.350ish/.440ish – and an excellent defender in the middle infield. His 2011 season was a disappointment, however, hitting just .259/.320/.333 in 119 games at AA. He was the Royals’ projected long-term shortstop as recently as January 2010, for whatever that’s worth.

Still, Bianchi just turned 25, and his excellent glove work could find him a home eventually as a utility infielder in the bigs. One plus he’s got on Ryan Flaherty and DJ LeMahieu: he can actually play good defense at second base and shortstop. Whether he can hit like them remains to be seen.

Bianchi takes the 37th spot on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, and will presumably get a chance to make the club out of Spring Training. If he doesn’t – and Darwin Barney’s presence (hopefully as the middle infield backup) suggests he won’t – he’ll provide depth at AAA, and look to re-establish himself.

There’s not a huge upside here, but there’s virtually no downside. This is the kind of move you’d like to see the Cubs making while they enjoy such a favorable waiver position (read: they were crappy in 2011, so now they get an early shot at guys like Bianchi).

  • die hard

    It is becoming apparent this front office prefers other teams injured players. Time will tell if this approach works for the Cubs who play many more day games than most teams resulting in havoc with a body’s clock. Healthy and non injury prone players find it very difficult to make such adjustments going from night to day and day to night games. Such stress would have even greater impact on players recovering from injuries or players who are often injured.

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