After what seemed like weeks of adding nothing but bullpenners on minor league deals with non-roster invites to Spring Training, today the Cubs announced a couple more positional guys that have received minor league deals, and will be coming to Spring Training.
First, there’s utility man Brent Lillibridge, who can play all over the diamond, and did so quite well for the White Sox in 2011. That year, he hit .258/.340/.505, and looked primed to become a Ben Zobrist-style high-end utility guy. Of course, he struck out at 28.7%, and that number jumped to 34% in 2012, and his line dropped to an awful .195/.250/.274 in time split between the White Sox, Red Sox, and Indians.
And now he had to settle for a minor league deal and a non-roster invite. It’s a bummer for his career trajectory, but it’s great news for the Cubs. They get a 29-year-old guy who could legitimately compete for a bench spot, and, if he doesn’t win it, could be really nice depth down at AAA. That, of course, assumes that 2012 was more of an aberration than 2011 was (his career numbers suggest 2012 was more Lillibridge than 2011, but, hey, we can hope).
Then there’s 34-year-old outfielder Darnell McDonald, well known from his days in Boston. He never quite distinguished himself as a regular, but he could always play adequate defense all over the outfield. He’ll serve as AAA depth, and compete for a fifth outfielder’s job on the bench in the Spring. His primary competition would be someone like Tony Campana, presuming Dave Sappelt is locked into a job, and presuming the Cubs don’t add another outfielder in free agency or trade.
You can see the Cubs’ current list of non-roster invitees, the rest of whom have been covered in individual posts (as well as some players whose invitations haven’t officially been announced), here.