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chicago cubs logoA few weekend minor league signings to share, in addition to the Chris Valaika and Aaron Cunningham deals, which have already been discussed …

  • Eli Whiteside was, at one time, a decent back-up catcher with the Giants. That time was brief and several years ago, and Whiteside is now a 34-year-old backstop who hit .187/.242/.280 last year at AAA for the Rangers. The Cubs grabbed him on a minor league deal, and he’ll get a Spring Training invite, too. At most, Whiteside is the third catcher on the depth chart (behind Welington Castillo and whomever the Cubs get to be his backup), and will see time at AAA Iowa. The Cubs’ system is extremely thin at catcher, so there should probably be a couple more moves like this on the way.
  • Jeudy Valdez is a former Padres prospect (there’s your Hoyer/McLeod/Madison connection) who hit .251/.300/.406 at AA last year while playing shortstop. He’s just 24, so this is more in the way of a true minor league signing. Valdez provides middle infield depth, while also offering the teeniest, tiniest possibility of upside. (Signing per Chris Cotillo.)
  • Water Ibarra is another middle infielder, albeit one who can play all over. He’s light with the stick – career .271/.313/.364 minor league line – but offers versatility. Ibarra just turned 26, and figures to be depth at AAA, though he’s getting an invite to Spring Training. Together with Valdez and Valaika, that’s a huge amount of middle infield depth to be adding in the upper minors on these kinds of deals. The Cubs have Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara already holding down those spots at AAA as starters, together with Logan Watkins mixed in somehow. They’ve got Christian Villanueva and Mike Olt to figure spots for, and a big league roster that features Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Luis Valbuena, and Donnie Murphy. It’s fair to wonder if there is an expectation that, this offseason, some of those numbers will dwindle. I guess “expectation” is probably too strong of a word – I think it’s fair to say that everyone recognizes the possibility that moves could be made.

A reminder for the uppity among you: every team in baseball signs a dozen or more minor league free agents throughout the offseason. It’s part of having a complete minor league system (and having some vets mixed in with the youngsters, which helps protect against untimely promotions and also offers some mentoring opportunities). Your jokes about the Cubs now making the World Series are not only hacky and unfunny, they also miss the point.

  • Jim

    I just read it that with the slew of middle infielders coming in, it could be a sign that Darwin Barney will be non tendered.

    • Chad

      If Tony Campana can return value in a trade then Darwin Barney surely can.

  • CubbieBubba

    nothing is less funny than the Cubs actual chances in 2014

  • preacherman86

    Haha, I like the not so subtle hint at the end sir. Organizational depth is a must have, and you have to fill in gaps with these guys at some point, why not be early to the table?

  • Sandberg

    While these moves make me yawn, I love that Brett covers them. It gives me confidence that I do not need to go elsewhere for Cubs news. I am also antsy for some movement to begin. I do not expect the outlook for 2014 to be so bleak in spring training.

  • cjdubbya

    Not that he’s one of these guys, but I think of a dude like Anthony Giansanti last year – played at Tennessee, Iowa and Daytona. Dudes that you can move around. There’s value there – not that it’ll translate to Wrigley in 2014, but there’s value.

    • AA Correspondent

      I agree. Anthony was an integral part of the FSL Champion Daytona Cubs after stints in AA and AAA……..and I believe simply did not get the reps at AA that he needed. Looking forward to seeing him as an everyday guy in AA in 2014. Our outfield depth in AAA is pretty deep now, and I think he’ll be a very nice surprise as an everyday guy in TN this season.

      Brandon

  • Eric

    Here’s hoping the FO expects Baez to force his way onto the roster in Spring Training…

    • DocPeterWimsey

      This FO is not going to let ST affect their plans. The sample sizes are tiny and ST pitching is not in-season MLB pitching.

      • J.L.

        So Joe Mather got a roster spot because of his past performance?

        I know, apples and oranges. The F.O. wasn’t concerned about Mather’s development like they are about Baez’s. But it’s not true that spring training statistics are completely irrelevant when it comes to roster decisions.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          True, but that’s also not inconsistent with an FO not letting ST affect their plans. The basic plans for an FO concern starting position players and starting pitchers. Most teams (and even including the good ones!) have that open spot or two (or three or four) in the bullpen or for utility players. Your long term plans concerning your Javier Baez’s are that they NOT end up like that! ST is not a great way to evaluate your candidates (who often are the “migrant workers” of baseball), but generally it’s a “meh” choice anyway. You could flip a coin: but, really, why bother when ST stats are just as meaningful?

  • Spoda17

    We went through this last year… the reality of it is that no matter what, we have to filed a team at all levels, not just at Wrigley. Not every minor leaguer is a prospect, but the team must still send guys out onto the field and play a game.

    Thanks for the coverage Brett, I do like this type of information as well.

    • MightyBear

      I concur.

      • Wilbur

        I agree with your concurrence …

    • SH

      They should change the settings to “do not require complete minor league rosters.” Then you can focus only on genuine prospects and save resources on filler.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com salesguy

    For every one Elite prospect there are probably 20 of these guys, (both in our organization and in others). They do jobs, and fill roles that are necessary to an organization.

  • Napercal

    At what point is a player subject to the Rule 5 draft? Is it based on age or number of seasons in the minors?

  • Kyle

    More tedious:

    Hacky, unfunny jokes about meaningless signings making the Cubs contenders, or pointless “analysis” in which commentators say “Well, there’s no real risk, so it’s a good deal!” ?

    • Andrew

      I’ve come to be much more annoyed with the latter. People saying every no-risk move is another example of this FO looking for value wherever it’s available etc. is pretty tiresome. It’s akin to comparing hiring a new janitor for wrigley and saying it’s improving the ballpark. I just say good for those minor leaguers, they may not be getting paid as much as a lot of people their age, but they get to do what they love for a living for a little while longer so good for them.

  • preacherman86

    Or worse yet, comments about poor analysis and unfunny jokes;)

  • AA Correspondent

    When do you think minor league coaching staffs will be announced? I see that some teams have already started announcing and I am curious when we can expect the Cubs on field coaching announcements. Any insights? (other than the obvious: sometime before Spring training)

    Brandon

  • itzscott

    >> A reminder for the uppity among you: every team in baseball signs a dozen or more minor league free agents throughout the offseason. <<

    So, who else have every other team in baseball signed to these types of "deals"?

    My money's on the under if the magic number is a dozen or more.

  • Josh

    Sad thing is these will probably be our biggest signings of the offseason. Excuse me while I go cry a little bit.

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