The Cubs *Finally* Officially Sign Carlos Villanueva, DFA Lendy Castillo

lendy castillo cubsAfter more than a month of, presumably, trying to work a trade that would open up a 40-man roster spot for not-so-recently-signed free agent pitcher Carlos Villanueva, the Cubs bit the bullet today and designated pitcher Lendy Castillo for assignment (as I guessed they might earlier this week). With that, Villanueva’s reported two-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs is now official. Given the depth of starting pitchers on the roster, Villanueva is tentatively expected to open the season in the bullpen, in something of a swing role.

The Cubs will now have 10 days to trade, release, or waive Castillo. I suspect they’ll go the latter route, and try to sneak him through waivers. The choice of Castillo as the DFA probably had as much to do with the Cubs’ belief that no other team would be willing to stash him on their 40-man as it does with the Cubs’ lack of interest in keeping Castillo. After going to great lengths to keep Castillo last year after selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft, I’m sure the Cubs would prefer not to lose him now for nothing.

Castillo, 23, didn’t pitch well for the Cubs last year (7.78 ERA, 2.250 WHIP) before coming down with a back, er, groin, or whatever strain midseason. But he’s still quite young in pitching years, having not pitched above A-ball before last year, and having only been converted into a starting pitcher in 2010.

Now the Cubs will set about opening up a spot on the roster, which stands unofficially at 41, for outfielder Scott Hairston.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

86 responses to “The Cubs *Finally* Officially Sign Carlos Villanueva, DFA Lendy Castillo”

  1. Austin

    This will really hurt if someone picks him up in waivers.

  2. Brian cubs fan

    dont think he will get claimed but if he did the cubs have alot of depth on the pitching front and getting closer to spring training the cubs can always find someone on a minor league deal with a spring training invite or even some without a invite

  3. Matt Trueblood

    Losing Lendy shouldn’t cost anyone sleep. He has upside, but he needs another (what would you say?) two years of development to have any chance to get there. Let some other team try that tightrope walk if they want. Keeping Castillo on the 40 was just clogging things. He’s fundamentally not a 40-man kind of arm right now.

  4. Mac

    I’m as big of a fan as Campana as the next guy but, with the signing of Hairston there just is no room or, real need for him on the roster. (Speed, yes I know) Unless a trade of DeJesus or Soriano happens then we have Sappelt and Schierholtz as extra OF’s off the bench. Not to mention Lillibridge, Bogusevic, or even Macdonald in AAA or, on the bench. Campana is likely to clear waivers too, IMO

    1. Mac

      Forgot Brett Jackson too, IF need be

      1. Segal27

        Please explain to me why anyone would want to forget a 24 year old with upside, we all know he needs to work on the bat but there is no reason for him to be designated for assignment.

        1. MichiganGoat

          Because that bat isn’t going to get better

          1. Segal27

            We will see what comes out of his work with Sveum

            1. Matt Trueblood

              What would have to come out of it would literally be twice the contact rate and better plate discipline. Not sure people are grasping just how short he is on power. He needs to be Darwin Barney in terms of strikeout rate to survive with what he has physically. That’s how Ben Revere has done it. And that doesn’t just happen. If it did, Brett Jackson wouldn’t have a giant question mark as the second digit of his Jersey number. No. Tony Campana was a fun way to break up a 101-loss season, just like Bryan LaHair was. Don’t get it twisted.

              1. dob2812

                Then tell us how short he is on power, please. His ISO was 167 in the majors last year. Barney’s was 100.

                Power is not Jackson’s problem. He walked a lot in the majors. If his contact rate got up to 70%, he’d be fine. That’s not going to be easy but it’s not so hard as to make him a lost cause.

        2. frank

          If you’re talking about Campana, he’ll be 27 in May.

  5. Matty V

    I’m a little disappointed the Cubs weren’t able to work a trade to open a spot. Not because I’m a fan of Castillo. I more wanted to see a creative trade that helped our club and created the space on the 40-man that we needed.

  6. Marcel91

    Really hopes he makes it through waivers and we can stash him in the minors for more development. Nice young pitcher with a live arm.

  7. Frank

    I agree matty,it’s not that I love Castillo or campana. I would love to see the cubs get creative. I know they have tried or they wouldn’t have waited so long to make an obvious move. I hope they can swing a trade that would make this years team better and the future as well.

  8. nkniacc13

    gong to be very intersting to see what they doto clear the next spot. With mst teams right at that 40 man limit be tough to work out a trade.

    1. Good Captain

      The other side to your point makes it more likely Castillo and Campana, if he’s DFA’d, will not be claimed. The Cubs are from the only team w/ these issues. I’m not saying that one or both players will not be claimed, only that right now, only a few teams may be able or willing to claim these two, and they may struggle w/ the same issue to swing it.

  9. cubsin

    I must sadly admit that, for the first time, I’m extremely disappointed with our front office. First of all, taking this long to clear a roster spot was completely unacceptable. Secondly, I’m embarrassed every day that Tony Campana remains on our major league roster. Even if the odds against Castillo making it back to the big leagues were 100 to 1, he’d still be more valuable long term than a tenth OF who has great speed and baserunning skills, but can’t bunt, hit for average, draw walks, hit for power, play good defense or throw a baseball.

    1. Illini Iceman

      Why do you care how long it took them to clear a roster spot and what possible reason could there be to call it “unacceptable”?

    2. DarthHater

      Disagreement over which of two insignificant players to keep for the last roster spot on a rebuilding team has got to be just about the most absurd possible reason for losing faith in a front office.

      1. Wilbur

        amen

  10. 5412

    Hi,

    Two things:

    1. Isn’t it wonderful to have to DFA a player that actually might have some value? That is a good sign.

    2. The Cubs really blew it last year when they did not trade Campana. His one and only role should be designated runner. They could have easily traded him to a contender down the stretch who would expand their roster after September 1st.

    Campana showed me zero improvement last year. His only chance at playing regularly was to turn into a Juan Pierre. Sorry but he cannot bunt any better now than he could the season before. Until he learns to consistently lay down a good drag bunt, he belongs in the minors. Call him up in September and use him for a runner.

    regards,
    5412

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      “They could have easily traded him to a contender down the stretch who would expand their roster after September 1st.”

      Did any contender acquire a 1-dimensional speedster like Campana down the stretch? Did any of them call up one of the 1-D speedsters in their own system?

      When people were not acquiring an item, that strongly suggests that there was not any demand for that item.

      1. Kyle

        You keep implying that anyone who is fast could duplicate what Campana does, and it’s still not true.

        He’s got 40 hit tool at the major league level. That’s not nothing.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Sorry, but he is barely much better a hitter than many pitchers are. He is the only position player I have seen since the ’70′s who gets his bat blown out of his hands by fastballs.

          1. Kyle

            You are just being silly.

            87 position players with more than 100 PAs last season put up worse wOBAs than Campana.

            He’s a bad hitter. But being a bad hitter at the MLB level is not easy.

            1. Norm

              Not sure of your point.
              100 PA is meaningless. There are numerous players that get 100 PA in a season that don’t belong in the majors and won’t make it to 500.
              No, its not easy, but so what? He is one of the 1000 or 2000 best baseball players in the world, but he still sucks relative to the league.
              He also got that wOBA with a .351 BABIP which tells me his future is much more likely to get worse before it improves. No other player with a worse wOBA in the same number of PA was higher than a .303 BABIP.

              1. mudge

                When you’re that fast, that babip is not an accident.

              2. Kyle

                Well, first, keep in mind that wOBA is a measure that ignores several of Campana’s most valuable traits.

                Second, no, it’s not that easy to find players to replace those numerous players. That’s the point. Campana is statistically valuable on an MLB roster as the 5th outfielder precisely because it’s *not* that easy to find guys who can replace the sum total of his value.

                1. Turn Two

                  Campana takes second nearly everytime he gets aboard, so even if he gets aboard at a slightly worse rate than a typical fifth outfielder he gets himself in scoring position much more effectively. If singling and stealing second improved your slugging position his would be very high. I would argue his means of getting to second is better than doing so via a double because it distracts the pitcher at the same time. I realize a double has a better chance of producing an rbi. However as a fifth outfielder i see his value being fairly high.

                  1. Hansman1982

                    Wow, statistics has proven many of these things incorrect.

                    Single + SB < Double (in campanas case it's about .13 runs or half the value of a SB)

                    There has been little statistical evidence that a hitter hits better with a "speedster" on the base paths. So there is virtually no difference between Yadier Molina/Prince Fielder on first or Billy Hamilton/Tony Campana

                    1. Drew7

                      If it can’t be measured there’s no sense in arguing about it.

                      This falls into the same category as “protecting” your good hitters: if something is said to be true, and is then repeated by enough people for a long enough period of time, it eventually needs no validation.

                2. hutch

                  Why are people still talking about campana?

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    FACT: Campana will be discussed for three years after he is off the Cubs and out if baseball, we will replace the word Scrappy with Campy (“Sure *insert scrappy player’s name* might not be able to do much offensive but he deserves a chance he’s very campy and plays the game the right way”).

                    Man I wish the Campy Drama will just end, more discussion and statistical argument has been wasted on a fringe 25th roster player with only one good skill.

                    Please DFA him send him to Japan I’m tired of seeing, typing, and hearing his name. I’m renaming all annoying things in life as Campanas – “Damn it dear you just Campana’d the steak, I wanted medium not medium well”

                  2. arta

                    i’m with you Hutch.

                3. jt

                  OPS is a measure for the generic batter. The capacity for a batter to hit doubles is more valuable than a single and SB because of the chance to move a runner ( I believe you pointed that out to me several years ago ).
                  But, Campanas’ role would be as a fifth OF’er. His pinch hitting role should be as leading off an inning rather than when runners are “clogging” the bases. Also, his role as a pinch runner and double switch guy should be considered. Therefore, he is not a generic batter. The value of his skill set should be evaluated in the manner they would be used for the lion’s share of the time.
                  I’m not saying that he should be on the 25 or even 40 man roster. I’m just saying that make a good point in that he should be evaluated as to that which he uniquely brings to the team.

                  1. Drew7

                    Why would you want a guy that gets at barely a .300 clip leading off an inning as a pinch-hitter?

                    I understand he has value as a pinch-runner late in the game, but I don’t see the point in having a guy like him as one of the 4 non-catcher bench guys. In the NL, I’d much rather have another bat I can at least have a little bit of faith in against a good reliever.

    2. hookersorcake

      “The Cubs could have easily traded him to a contender…”

      Do you have an inside source? Seriously, the arm chair GMing is hilarious. I also love the whole, “They could’ve done better in the trade” like they didn’t check with other GM’s and wanted to get the trade done before tee time.
      We could all do a better job just spittballin with 1% of the info. I’ve won the world series seven times in the last two months alone. Theo is dumb. Jed Hoyer eats cat poop.

    3. Die hard

      If used as a platoon with Sori in left on a regular basis that position will yield 20 hrs and 50 SB over162 games with avg defense- but problem is Cubs wont buy into this idea that I proposed a yr ago

  11. Myles
    1. Good Captain

      Thanks for the shameless plug Myles. If your take is representative, I doubt Castillo will bump many, if any, other players off another 40 man roster. I think we the fans tend to focus on the player or our team’s players, often forgetting the bigger picture.

  12. nkniacc13

    I hope that campana is the roster spot for hariston in this case. I kinda understand pitcher for pitcher when looking at the 40 man configuration but only as long as they go OF for OF. I wonder if Bourn not being signed is creating things hard on some front offices in the fact that no one wants to sign him but everyone has deals they may want to make but only when they know his destination

    1. CubFan Paul

      I think the longer Bourn goes unsigned the more likely he’ll sign with the Cubs for 3-4yrs $39M-$60M.

      1. Matt Trueblood

        I feel just the opposite, funnily enough. I think if that deal were out there, if the Cubs really had much interest, they’d have already signed him.

  13. IndyCubsFan

    Any news on the Carpenter front?

  14. Frank

    It makes me wonder. Are the gms playing poker? Are the cubs asking to much? Are the other gms not offering enough? Do other teams not like our players? Is everyone waiting for the last domino to fall? Stay tuned to bleacher nation for answers to these questions and more!

    1. Matt Trueblood

      I heard a tidbit from Buster Olney on an old podcast recently (from July ’11) about Theo. Seems other execs marvel at how he keeps 50 balls in the air, more potential moves always in play than anyone. I’d bet these long waits are a lot of what Theo always did in Boston, which was spin those plates, juggle those balls, but very often be smart enough NOT to make a move.

  15. Die hard

    Maybe they can concentrate now on Soriano and Campana for Ethier of LA

    1. Carew

      it’s gonna take a lot more than that…

      1. Die hard

        Add Marmol

        1. DarthHater

          The Dodgers have no need for Soriano or Marmol.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Or Campana.

        2. Carew

          It would still take more…You just want to give up those 3 just for the sake of giving them up. I’d rather have 2 or 3 seperate trades that could possibly bring more than 1 that would just bring Either, who has a BIG contract and aint gettin any younger

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Ethier also has started to move to almost LaHair-esque splits. I was a big fan of his, and I was really hoping that the Cubs or Sox could pry Ethier away from the Dodgers 6-7 years ago, when the Dodgers FO and/or managers seemed to have no idea what they had. However, Ethier probably was not actually available: although I could have seen Hendry not appreciating Ethier, I could not see all of the other 28 GMs failing to appreciate him!

            1. Die hard

              Cubs won’t have to eat Soris contract balance and tho Cubs would have to absorb Ethiers he is much younger and healthier

              1. bbmoney

                I’m not sure why we’d want Ethier. That deal he signed was absurd for a player with his skill set who’ll be in his mid to late 30′s by the time the deal is done. He can’t hit lefties, isn’t much of a fielder and neither of those things are likely to get better the next 5 years. He’s a pretty likely candidate to regress…quickly.

                He already shouldn’t play against lefties.

    2. Matt Trueblood

      All the replies to this are right, but most miss the point: Ethier stinks. I mean, not totally stinks, but stinks relative to his trade value and what’s owed him. Bad defense. Big platoon splits. At SABR last summer, Vince Gennaro showed Ethier preyed on bad pitchers to pad his overall stats more than virtually any other hitter out there. Pass. Big pass.

  16. Dustin S

    It was very cool of Villanueva to let it slide this long to give the team time to work something out. It was a risk for him if things with the Cubs fell through for some far-out reason that he might have had to take a much lower last minute deal someplace else. Stranger things have happened, kitchen knife accidents or w/e. Anything is possible before the papers are signed.

    1. cjdubbya

      The perks of hermetically sealing a guy til the contract goes through…

  17. Blublud

    Once again, everybody calls for Campana to be waived and yet Campana will last another day. I feel Campana is pretty much safe now that Raley is still on the Roster. With Dolis, Raley and Valbeuna still on the roster, Campana will not be waived, not even for Hairston. I find it funny as I look back, the people always tell me I’m wrong and yet I turn out to be right more times then not.

    1. AB

      I look forward to Campana’s year 27, 4th year on the Iowa roster, following legends like Jake Fox and Josh Kroeger.

    2. mudge

      I didn’t call for Campana to be waived. But Valbuena – a proven utility man?

    3. Matt Trueblood

      “With Dolis, Raley and Valbeuna still on the roster, Campana will not be waived, not even for Hairston…”

      Come on, man. Really? MAYBE Raley is more DFA-friendly than Campana, but if they got rid of Valbuena or Dokis ahead of him, I would give you my birth date and social security number. Just silly. No, Campana’s next to go, barring a trade.

      1. Blublud

        I willing to bet he’s not.

  18. IndyCubsFan

    Read that Detroit is in need of a closer… EVERYONE knows where I’m going with this.

  19. Xavier

    Hey Brett. Can you draw more interest to the message board there is some good reads just not enough viewers.

  20. MichiganGoat

    Dead Dick Tidrow,

    Please take Campana away, in your glory and power I trust. Please for the sanity of BleacherNation please let him go far far away and never return. Please smite anyone who calls for his name after his absence, please let us for get his name. I your humble goat worshiper begs for your intervention.

    In your glory I trust you Dick Tidrow, in you stashe is the power to remove Campana from our minds. Please save us from, please

    Thank you

    1. MichiganGoat

      Shite I mean Dear not Dead… I’m going to have to sacrifice a fellow goat for that mistake.

    2. Blublud

      Um. Now you see how I felt the moment we traded for Chris Volstad. Except Campana can actually play baseball.

  21. JR

    Chances are that Lendy never becomes a good major leaguer, but it seems wrong to let him walk after all that time he spent in the bigs last year when he was no where close to being ready. Lot of work for nothing.

    1. Blublud

      I doubt he gets claim. This is why he was DFA’d. Theo and comp are pretty smart.

      1. JR

        I realize they are pretty smart. It still blows just the same that they put all that work in and could lose him for nothing. Just saying…

  22. #1lahairfan

    Campana might be the last piece the Cubs need. Every contender wants that extremely fast pinch-runner. These guys aren’t just lying around. It might not seem like it but Campana could be very convenient to have in a couple years.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      If that were true, then the contenders would frequently acquire that very fast pinch-runner. However, they very rarely do: in fact, I’m hard pressed to remember a guy acquired for that purpose. One of the probable contenders this year, the Dodgers, might not even keep their Campana (Dee Gordon) on the big league team! The other contenders will worry about relievers and getting a better OPS guy in that one weak position long before they worry about a pinch-runner.

      1. dabynsky

        Only example that comes to mind is Dave Roberts with the Red Sox in 04, but he offered way more with the bat than Campana or Gordon do.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          *face palm* Yeah, you’d think that as a Sox fan, I’d remember him! And, yes, Roberts did offer much more with the bat than Campana or Gordon do: Roberts had some decent seasons with the Dodgers as a near-regular (I don’t remember if it was injuries or platooning) before that and had a couple of good years on the Padres as a regular after that. Of course, Roberts actually was fairly old when he stole that base (I still remember it vividly!), so he didn’t have many good years left at that point.

          That said, the ’04 Sox were much more the sort of team that could afford to make that move. They were loaded with high OBP guys who, um, didn’t make anybody think “Doppler” when they ran. (“Richter” perhaps!) Because of the DH, they didn’t need pinch-hitters very often (although Roberts would not have been awful: he had an average batting eye and good contact skills). That made it easier to have a guy like him than it would have been for an NL team.

      2. jt

        ’85 Royals traded for Lonnie Smith even though he had come off an ’84 season with an OPS of 0.691 and started the ’85 year with an OPS of 0.700 with over 100 PA’s. Despite finishing the ’85 season with an OPS of 0.690 he remained their LF’er.
        Of course that was pre-steriod. Of course this is getting to be post-steroid.
        Again, one size does not always fit all.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Lonnie Smith was not acquired to be a pinch-runner: he was acquired to be a full-time LFer. Remember, he’d posted OBP’s of 0.380+ for four straight years prior to 1984. (Of course, OBP was still invisible to most people in 1985: but his BA was 0.300+ in those seasons, which did get attention.) Yes, his slugging was not great: but that had much less to do with “pre-steroids” than it had to do with playing in the NL East (which had 5 pitchers’ parks) and the fact that the strike zone was still a lot bigger than it is now. Smith’s slugging actually was pretty good for someone playing so many games in those parks.

          If I recall, then there were also personality issues involved. Lonnie bumped with Herzog, and Herzog viewed Smith’s fielding as a lot worse than Vince Coleman’s. (That might not have been 100% true, but in 1985 fielding evaluation was based almost entirely on style rather than substance.)