aaron cunningham padresPerhaps it’s the dreamer in me, but I’ve always enjoyed writing about and deconstructing minor league signings. No, they almost never pay off, and, even when they do, it’s relatively low-impact. But the deals also involve no risk, which make them the easiest kind to dream about.

Aaron Cunningham is the latest dream, a 27-year-old outfielder whom the Cubs have reportedly signed to a minor league deal. (Read that CSN piece for a superfluous, but humorous, story about Cunningham selling his car to Ice-T.)

Cunningham is well-traveled, having made stops in the White Sox’s, Diamondbacks’, A’s, Padres’, Indians’, and Rangers’ systems before now coming to the Cubs. His time in San Diego aligned with many of the Cubs’ front office members’ time there, so you can see the connection. Cunningham has actually amassed 501 plate appearances in the bigs, spread out over five seasons, and he’s hit just .219/.280/.347. To his credit, it looks like he can play all over the outfield, can hit lefties serviceably (.238/.312/.399), and appears to rate out as an above-average defensive outfielder.

Cunningham was a 6th round pick for the White Sox back in 2005, and actually was a top 100 prospect in baseball before the 2009 season. He’s got a .295/.371/.473 career minor league line, so he’s always been able to hit a little bit.

That sounds like a guy you’re happy to bring to Spring Training and see if he can win a bench job. If he can’t, he’s adequate depth at AAA, where the Cubs could be figuring out a mix of guys like Brett Jackson, Jae-Hoon Ha, Thomas Neal, Brian Bogusevic, and Matt Szczur.

  • Fishin Phil

    Read the story on CSN. I figure if that is the highlight of his baseball career, he should consider going into broadcasting. I hear WGN is looking for a color commentator on the radio side.

  • Jon

    More dumpster diving

    • cjdubbya

      Yup…but every single team does it.

    • Blaakhawks1963

      Every team does it. It’s called organizational filler, Triple A roster material, spring training bodies.

  • ssckelley

    Anybody else got the Go Cubs Go song ringing in your heads after reading about this signee?

    • mjhurdle

      i always have Go Cubs Go in my head :)

  • Eric

    Solid pickup. Low-risk. What’s not to like?

    • Kyle

      I want to to create a bot that automatically replies this every time the Cubs sign a player to a minor-league deal

      • YourResidentJag


      • Koyie Hill Sucks

        Remember every signing by Theo & Co is a great signing until proven otherwise…

        There should be one post a month with every crappy player the cubs signed to a minor league deal. It should here “List of players you could possibly see at Wrigley by July 2014”

  • TheRiot2

    Throw enough bodies at the wall and you’ll have to buy new drywall .

  • Tony_S

    “No way he knew who I was.”


  • Gabe Athouse

    I love how hitting (.238/.312/.399) is now considered hitting, “serviceably.” Not to start a whole PHD discussion, but it definitely strikes a bitter bone in me that guys were putting up video game numbers when I was still playing ball and now .238 gets you signed and at least a shot to make a big league club.

    • Funn Dave

      If that weren’t enough, each minor league team would have like six players.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      I don’t think anyone considers .238 hitting serviceable, have no idea why it was stated like that in the article.

  • Senor Cub

    It would be nice if Theo could find someone outside of San Diego and Boston. Not sure that it would make a difference. I know they both have good farm systems and this FO is familiar with both teams. Why don’t they take someone from the Cardinals or turn these San Diego and Boston connections into winning players like the Cardinals seem to be able to do with every SINGLE person that they find.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Should I really compile a list of players they’ve signed to minor league deals (and up) that have no such connections? Because it’s about 100 deep.

    • MightyBear

      They signed that one pitcher from the Cardinals and he was terrible. If the Cardinals are cutting a player, there’s probably a reason.

  • itzscott

    This is getting redundant

  • Andrew

    You know free agency is starting when we start getting the parade of minor league signings. Here’s hoping we have a good enough team that we never see Aaron Cunningham in a cubs uniform.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      But hey, it lets us dream that one of them will finally break out!

  • cavemencubbie

    First thing which went through my head, (nothing there to impede the process) when reading this post, was goodbye Brett Jackson.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      As bad as Jackson is, he is better than this guy.

  • Jono


    ….anyone? anyone?…

    • Danny Ballgame

      Mr. Garvey. Great skit

      • Jono

        the football celebration skit last night had my sides hurting

        • Danny Ballgame

          East vs. West is my fav

          • Jono

            Davoin Shower-Handle

            • Jamie

              Fartrell Cluggins!

              • Jono

                The Player Formerly Known As Mousecop!

        • X the Cubs Fan


  • Funn Dave

    “Aaron Cunningham is the latest dream, a 27-year-old outfielder….”

    Hear that? Brett thinks Cunningham’s dreamy!

    • On The Farm

      He is no Ryan Swoooney

      • Funn Dave

        Very nice. 9/10.

  • Blaakhawks1963

    Do you know what Aaron Cunningham is for the Cubs? Well, exactly what Brett Jackson is about to become for some other organization. In other words, taking a minimal risk flyer on a once well-regarded hitting prospect AND adding organizational filler and a Triple A body to the mix.

    This is a minimal move. Every team makes these moves. Certainly not a strategic move or one that is likely to impact the big league club.

    • Funn Dave

      Hmm, why do I feel like I’ve read that sentiment recently? Oh, yeah, that’s why:

      “No, they almost never pay off, and, even when they do, it’s relatively low-impact. But the deals also involve no risk, which make them the easiest kind to dream about”

      “If he can’t, he’s adequate depth at AAA, where the Cubs could be figuring out a mix of guys like Brett Jackson, Jae-Hoon Ha, Thomas Neal, Brian Bogusevic, and Matt Szczur.”

      • On The Farm

        Well played Dave. A tip of the hat to you.

    • Fishin Phil

      True, every team needs organizational filler. I thought the funny part of the CSN story was how briefly they focused on his baseball career as opposed to the in-depth coverage of his selling a car to a rapper.

      I think this kid is gonna make a great used car salesman some day!

  • Funn Dave

    “Cunningham is well-traveled.”

    Read: Cunningham is unwanted.

  • BlameHendry


    • On The Farm

      You didn’t have to read the article if you didn’t want to..

  • Joycedaddy

    Look we all know that these low-risk moves are common, but could we perhaps try some of these low-risk moves with players who don’t come from the Padres or Red Sox organization?

    • Funn Dave

      “Should I really compile a list of players they’ve signed to minor league deals (and up) that have no such connections? Because it’s about 100 deep.”


  • Curt

    What’s the point in these signings is to show the fo I’s doing something I know it’s prob minor league depth but how does this help with improving the big league team .

    • Funn Dave

      Well, if there weren’t players in the minors that didn’t have a very good chance of contributing to the big league club, then there wouldn’t be anyone for the prospects that do have futures to hone their skills with.

  • Die hard

    Trade bait

    • Fishin Phil

      Yes, I would trade you for bait. Die hard for a dozen nightcrawlers. I’m good with that.

      • TWC

        I think you’re aiming too high with that barter.

        • Fishin Phil

          Shoot for the moon, negotiate down.

  • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache


    • Joker


  • Aaron

    “His time in San Diego aligned with many of the Cubs’ front office members’ time there, so you can see the connection.”

    San Diego’s weather is one of the best in the country and I would love to trade some of their days for ours in the Chicago area. However, when did San Diego become the mecca for baseball managers, coaches, front office and players? If we’re going to take from other teams, let’s take from the best like the Yankees, Braves, etc.

    But from San Diego…on a regular basis? Time for some NEW and BETTER connections!

    • Andrew

      Ya they have signed guys from the yankees and braves too. Ideally you would be snagging guys from teams that traditionally have good minor league systems, not necesarily good major league teams.

  • ssckelley

    II appears some of you would prefer if Brett did not report this stuff. Every team hires players to minor league contracts and bring them into spring training. Without Brett I probably would never hear of these players. At least signing this guy is better than bringing back McDonald.

  • Aaron

    ssckelley – my comment was directed towards the Cubs not Brett. It seems as if San Diego has become our source for players, managers, coaches, FO…but are they a championship caliber club to model after? I say no.

    • ssckelley

      I was not singling you out.

  • Landon

    They didn’t want Barney feeling left out in Spring Training. Reports are he will give the Bunting Tourney another below average participant.

  • Aaron

    New Spring Training Game – Getting a hit with runners in scoring position. Lots of improvement needed with this!

  • Mtcubfan

    Aaron is also a nice individual. He had no hesitation in signing a ball a few years ago during spring training while the other players ignored the fans. I hope the Cubs can resurrect his potential and career.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Maybe, that’s because he knew he wasn’t playing and didn’t have to prepare for the game.

  • Stu

    Any chance that Aaron is highlighted at Cubs Convention? How about a cover for Vineline?

    I’m sure that the season tickets who left are running back now.,

    Troll attack in 5…4…3…2….

    • Eric

      So the organization aren’t supposed to sign non-marquee players? Are they all supposed to be sexy, high-priced, ground-breaking signings? Your comment doesn’t lead me to believe you follow baseball all that closely.

      Also, the “troll attack in…” countdown comment is just a very weak way of making sure no one challenges your comment’s validity. I’m correct for ignoring it.

      • TWC

        No, the “troll attack” countdown was just Stu counting to himself has his mouse hovered over the Return key.

  • Aaron

    Article states: “Cunningham’s hobby of buying cars, fixing them up, and selling them, began the same year his baseball career did.”

    Lesson here: Focus on your career.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      What are you talking about? He is focusing on the only career he has a shot at succeeding.

  • Stu

    I understand how baseball works. Of course they sign a lot filler that has no chance of changing the major league team.

    The Cubs can afford more payroll than currently constructed that won’t hinder the philosophy of growing from within with prospects. I find it silly that people actually worry about the expenses of the Cubs. Why? Do I care if the local restaurant’s costs are rising to serve me a fantastic dining experience for the price they are charging?

    The bottom line is if the product sucks, less people are going to shell out premium prices for the experience. Is 2 years enough of the hand waiving? 3 years? 5 years? When is it enough?

    • TWC

      “I understand how baseball works.”

      Just not how the Reply button works.

      “Of course they sign a lot filler that has no chance of changing the major league team.”

      But that won’t stop you from defensively bitching about said signings? That’s swell.

  • Stu

    I’m waiting for all of the clowns who laughed at the Dodgers “idiotic” way of signing players to admit that the Dodger fans got their money’s worth this year.

    They put out a great product=value for the fans.

    And they still have talent in the minor leagues. hmmmmm……

    • BT

      Hmmm, an internet poster advocated spending more money than anyone else. This has to be a first.

    • ETS

      I believe everyone thought that SIGN ALL THE PLAYERZ was a great short term strategy. Signing all the players then taking on all of boston’s whale contracts and giving up prospects in the prospects probably won’t play out well long term, but we’ll see

      • mr.mac

        Turned out great…for Boston.

    • Spider

      The difference is in Chicago culture. The Dodgers are used to competing, and want to compete. The Cubs now are where the Dodgers were under last ownership during the divorce, minus the fans with expectations to win.

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