The Chicago Cubs have signed an interesting reliever to a minor league deal: righty Jensen Lewis, a formerly very good pitcher with the Indians. The deal, reported by Baseball America, presumably comes with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.
Lewis, 28, was intermittently a very solid reliever for the Indians from 2007 to 2010, posting a 3.68 ERA (115 ERA+) and 1.359 WHIP over 198 innings during which he struck out 8 per 9 innings (3.9 BB/9).
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Jensen appears to have simply “lost it” starting in 2011. After an ugly Spring Training that year, he was sent to AAA to start the season, and was released by the Indians in June of that year. He didn’t catch on with another team that season, which makes me wonder if there was an injury issue. He bounced back a bit last year with the Diamondbacks at AAA, posting a 3.65 ERA and 1.235 WHIP over 56.2 innings. He struck out 43 and walked 20. That’s definitely not a bad ERA for the PCL, and playing in Reno.
Taken all together, Lewis might be one of the more interesting non-roster invites to Spring Training (I’m assuming he’ll get an invite).
Probably playing at least a small role in the signing? Lewis’ pitching coach in college was the Cubs’ new Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson.