The Cubs are reportedly close to making of their first “minor league deal/Spring Training invite” signings of the offseason, catcher Jason Jaramillo.

Jaramillo, 29, missed most of 2011 with elbow problems, and is a career .235/.293/.327 hitter over parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh, primarily as a back-up. He was dumped earlier this month to make room for pitcher Erik Bedard. He’s a switch hitter, and is solid defensively. As an all-around adequate, if unspectacular, back-stop, he makes sense on a no-risk, minor league deal.

Offensively, his numbers are better than former Cubs back-up catcher Koyie Hill (as are most pitchers’ numbers), who was finally, mercifully non-tendered by the Cubs a couple weeks ago. So at least there’s that. The bar for the Cubs’ back-up catcher spot has not been set particularly high since the days of Hank White.

Jaramillo will battle legit prospect Welington Castillo, kind-of-not-really-prospect-but-could-be-a-legit-back-up Steve Clevenger (both of whom are already on the 40-man roster), as well as any other camp invites in Spring for the right to back up Geovany Soto in 2012.

That is, of course, assuming Soto is not traded in the coming weeks. Jaramillo is receiving just a minor league deal – and the Cubs may yet pursue veteran free agent options like Jason Varitek – but it remains possible that the plan is to shop Soto with the thought that Castillo could take over behind the plate, with someone like Jaramillo backing him up. Either way, the presence of Jaramillo gives the Cubs a slight uptick in flexibility.

Given Jaramillo’s adequate performance as a back-up catcher in the bigs, this is the kind of Spring Training depth signing you’d like the Cubs to make, regardless of the plan behind the plate. Options – that’s all the Cubs are looking for right now.

  • Hcs

    Also just signed Sonnastine to a minor league contract…

  • jacob

    I think the only way he makes the team is if Soto is traded.

  • Oswego Chris

    I remember seeing something about when Pete Carroll(yes I know that most people can’t stand him) took over the Seahwaks he made like a hundred transactions just to get as much new blood as possible…I think that’s what we are seeing now….Jaramillo, Sonanstine, Corpas, the KC infielder….throw as much low-cost stuff against the wall and some of it may stick….plus you got three legit assets for Marshall….

    turned over two for two in Colorado trade, added deJesus…..

    nowhere to go but up….


    • ferrets_bueller

      I’ve never really gotten the dislike for Pete Carroll.  Yes, i hate USC, so i had always rooted against him, but always respected the guy.  He’s definitely a coach I wouldn’t mind playing for, especially in a college program.  So many coaches at that level border on being abusive in their handling of the kids they’re ‘coaching’ (like Nick Satan), that it was nice to see a guy who generally cared for his players, as opposed to someone who treats them like tools.

      But, back on topic…this team needs a ton of change.  And depth.  And, obviously, this helps with both- especially in the case than Soto is dealt eithe rin the offseason, or prior to the trade deadline.

    • Wilbur


    • hansman1982

      very good thought there, that Theo might just be looking to clean house over this year and next so that as he implements the new “Cubs Way” it is 20-23 new Cubbies who are buying into it heart and soul, not 6-7 guys and then another 7-8 who like it but miss Hendry’s hugs, 4-5 guys who hate it, etc…

      I dislike Carroll as well, mostly because USC was successful, so they got tons of hype but also because he cut bait and ran like a puppy dog as his “crimes” became public.

      • BetterNews

        We get “tons” of crap!

  • mikec

    J Jaramillo is a No. 3 catcher. That means he’s a Triple-A player for the most part, but the first call-up.

    Folks, you know your career is sputtering when the Pirates cut you.

    Hyping Jaramillo by setting the bar at the K. Hill level ain’t workin’ for me.

    This could mean S Clevenger is on the block. It doesn’t necessarily mean Soto is, although I’d like that. We’d get back something pretty good for Soto, and W Castillo projects to be about as good overall.

  • 2much2say

    Pena has to have Fielder sign before he will sign