Today is minor league deal day for the Chicago Cubs, it seems. They’re close to inking catcher Jason Jaramillo, and they’ve now announced two other signings: pitcher Manny Corpas (whose signing we’re already knew about, but now we know it was a minor league split deal, rather than a guaranteed Major League deal (I knew it seemed strange that he would get a guaranteed big-league deal (just sayin’))), and pitcher Andy Sonnanstine, who was recently non-tendered by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sonnanstine, who turns 29 in March, has not been a particularly effective pitcher in his five big league seasons. He sports a career 5.26 ERA (82 ERA+), 1.394 WHIP, and a meager 5.7 K/9. At least he doesn’t walk anyone – just 2.3 walks per nine innings.

Sonnanstine’s theoretical value is in his ability to pitch both in the rotation and out of the pen, but, with the Cubs, he’s almost certain to be competing, initially, for a bullpen spot only (if he earns it, he could be the Cubs’ 7th or 8th starter, should it come to that). And the good news there is that he’s a much better pitcher out of the pen than out of the rotation: in relief, he’s got a 4.40 career ERA and 1.36 WHIP (which numbers would look even better in the NL Central) in 86 innings, most of which have come in the last two seasons. And, coming out of the AL East, Theo Epstein is probably very familiar with what Sonnanstine has left to offer. If there was absolutely nothing worth taking a chance on here, Epstein wouldn’t have taken the chance.

It’s unreasonable to get excited about a minor league deal for a guy with terrible career numbers, but it’s fair to let the corners of your mouth turn upwards ever so slightly. Mine are with the Sonnanstine signing.

Sonnanstine, like Corpas, receives a non-guaranteed, split minor league deal, which is to say, it’s not a guaranteed deal, and he’ll make one rate if he makes the big league club out of Spring Training, and one rate if he’s sent to the minors. It’s about as no-lose as a contract gets for a reclamation type like Sonnanstine (or Corpas). They provide depth and alternative options, depending on how the rest of the offseason rounds out. Nicely done, Theo and Jed.

These minor league, high upside, cheap type deals could save the Cubs a fair bit in 2012. The question, of course, remains: where exactly is that saved money going to be spent?

  • Bryan

    I know logic is at a minimum sometime here, but i’ll take a stab at it…

    I love the way the offseason is progressing so far. Theo/Jed are sticking to a plan, and some fans just are too impatient to see it. What we have done so far:

    1) Trade a reliever (although a very very good one) who only had one year left for a 24 year old starter with high upside and 5 years of team control, a 24 year old mlb ready OF who either can play right now as a 4th/5th outfielder or at the minimum provide AAA depth that has been non-existent, and a 19 year 2B prospect who has been very impressive so far in the minors – that is turning a short-term asset into some very good potential long term pay off

    2) sign a veteran OF in DeJesus who will provide a solid RF for the next two years and be a great model for our young guys coming up as a hard player, hustler, great clubhouse guy.

    3) swap two players who could really use a change of scenery (Colvin/Stewart) and a low ceiling prospect in LeMahieu who is solid but over-hyped by fans for another low-risk high reward player in Casey Weathers. Like this deal a lot because it helps deal with the glut of OF’s we have, gives us a 3B with potenial high reward and versatility, and adds to the depth of bullpen arms in the minors.

    4) sign Corpas, Sonnanstine and Jaramillo (supposedly) who all are extremely low-risk and can be solid stop-gap players while players continue to develop in the minors with no rush to the majors.

    If you know what to look for, you can really see the plan that Theo/Jed have and they are doing it to perfection so far. The organization as a whole is getting younger, and the future potential is rising. I definitely get the sense that there is a lot more action coming. Garza, Marmol, Byrd, Soto, etc will continue to be shopped and would be shocked to see them all go at somepoint this offseason or at the trade deadline for pretty solid return. This team was not going to compete this season regardless of adding one or two big name guys like Fielder or Darvish.

    Maybe i’m crazy, but I can stand to watch a year or two more of 90 loss seasons if we continue to do things the right way. I’m even a little excited because we are going to start to see some young guys come up and get a shot, something that we never have gotten to see because they have all been traded away for aging veterans before.

    Keep reloading the farm, keep getting younger and in 3 years we’re going to be ready to make a run

  • Kernzee

    39 plus Reed Johnson , who will have to be added should he make the team in the spring . Assuming more trades that could further clog the roster , who are the most likely names to be waived ?

    • Brett

      Bianchi, Mateo, and Cabrera are three that stand out to me, though I doubt the Cubs would be eager to dump any of them. I suspect trades will be the thing.

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  • Hawkeyegrad

    Theo has just traded for or signed (temporally) two extreme fly ball pitchers which is not yet a trend but something to keep an eye on. I wonder if he sees something in the numbers at Wrigley that makes these guys more valuable to the Cubs then other teams.

  • Rooster

    I like Sonny. No lose situation and he was effective at one time in TB. Out of the American League he might be effective. Wood and Sonny have similar makeups. Interesting. It gets a like from me.

  • 2much2say

    Should all Hendry bad contracts be forgot
    and not repeated by Theo
    Should all Hendry bad contracts be forgot
    so the Cubs can win a pennant
    so the Cubs can win a pennant, so the Cubs can win a pennant
    We’ll trust in Theo til a pennant is real
    for a Cubs World Championship

    • ferrets_bueller

      you should change your name to “2little2say2often” or simply “broken record”

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        I agree with Mr. Bueller.

  • HoustonTransplant

    Concur. It was mildly palatable the first several times it (or any other holiday parody of his) was posted.

  • 2much2say

    Hey its not easy being me.

  • Spencer

    What’s the rule for multiple parentheses? Do you have to use brackets instead?  MG?

    • MichiganGoat

      Just sent you a direct message through Twitter

    • Brett

      Embedded parentheticals are supposed to be avoided (you are correct, that most sources suggest brackets within parentheses (and then alternating between brackets and parentheses thereafter (which, you can see, I didn’t do))). I, however, love them. Clarity is really the only guiding principle – the rest is just style. I would not recommend embedding parentheses on any kind of official documents.

      • MichiganGoat

        It does make for some good fun and are completely grammatical okay, but very poor style.

  • Katie

    Awww! MG, you’re like the Pied Piper of the newbies. Better you than TWC though. That damn hippie will probably lead them to a hacky sack game or a drum circle and make them wear patchouli oil.