Whether it’s an upside play or an attempt to re-stock the bullpen after (theoretically) dealing Sean Marshall, the Chicago Cubs are expected to sign righty reliever Manny Corpas to a one-year deal after a physical in Chicago today. The deal, it appears, is a guaranteed Major League deal, rather than a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.

Corpas, 29, didn’t pitch in 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2010. Before the surgery, Corpas’ once-dominant form – 232 ERA+ in 78 innings in 2007 – had faded to average, at best. Perhaps it was a lingering elbow issue that the surgery cleared up. But, if so, the problem lingered from 2008 to 2010 without anyone addressing the problem. That is to say: it’s possible Corpas simply became a mediocre pitcher.

Before I grouse about a minor move like this one, I should say that I’m sure the Cubs worked out Corpas, and I’m sure they saw things they liked. Corpas is obviously about as bounce-backy as a bounce-back candidate can get. Over their careers, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been exceedingly good at identifying guys like that.

But.

A Major League deal and 25-man roster spot for a guy who hasn’t pitched in over a year and hasn’t pitched well in four years? Even if the flashes of talent are still there, it seems like he should have to prove it, rather than be handed a spot that could otherwise go to one of the many young middle relief candidates the Cubs have in the upper minors. Because I trust Theo’s and Jed’s instincts, and because we don’t yet know what other roster reshaping may be done, it’s unfair to complain too loudly. So I won’t.

Still, it seems an odd move, in isolation.



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