The Chicago Cubs have signed former Marlins infielder Chris Valaika to a minor league contract, per Ken Rosenthal, and invited him to Spring Training.
The signing, as minor league deals usually are, is a low-risk, low-upside move. Valaika, 28, is a light-hitting 28-year-old middle infielder who has had a couple of cups in the bigs, but hasn’t found any long-term success. He offers depth where the Cubs have only a little (presumably, Javier Baez will start at short at Iowa and Arismendy Alcantara will start at second, but, if the Cubs suffer an injury in the middle infield, I’d imagine they’d rather not be forced to bring up a youngster if the timing isn’t otherwise right).
This particular signing, though, has an additional interesting layer. If Valaika’s name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Valaika was one of several Marlins players who had run-ins with former Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez. Ultimately, Martinez resigned, and it became something of a he-said, he-said, but the disputes arose out of Martinez perhaps being too gruff, and some Marlins players not being willing to help pick up baseballs (again, he-said, he-said, and we’ll probably never know precisely what happened).
I’ll have a bit more on minor league signings tomorrow, but the Cubs are making an early push to fill up the middle of the infield with some journeyman depth. It’s interesting.