chicago cubs logoIn your no-risk-but-will-still-be-inexplicably-criticized-by-meatballs move of the day, the Chicago Cubs re-signed veteran outfielder Darnell McDonald to a minor league contract. Chris Cotillo reports that it comes with a Spring Training invitation, which probably has as much to do with getting his veteran presence around as many young players as possible as it does about him actually having a chance to make the team.

McDonald, 35, came to the Cubs last year on a minor league deal. He is one of those veterans about whom you don’t hear any cross words, and who offers a young Cubs roster – be in the Spring or at AAA Iowa – the kind of player-to-player leadership and mentoring that you can’t get from a manager or a coaching staff. It’s good to have guys like him around and in the organization. Obviously this front office has extensive history with McDonald, who made the most of his hay with the Red Sox several years ago.

And, hey, he put up a .302/.351/.434 line for the Cubs last year over 57 late-year plate appearances!

Outside of the leadership stuff, McDonald is a pure outfield depth move, presumably of the seventh or eighth option variety. Although he’ll be at Spring Training, there is very little chance he’ll make the Opening Day roster, short of the Cubs utterly refusing to add anything else of consequence in the outfield this offseason. McDonald can still hit lefties a little bit, so, hey, you never know.

No risk. It’s fine. Repeat that to yourself before you blow off any needless steam in the comments.

  • ssckelley

    I know, I get it, but I still do not like this move. If the Cubs need another coach then hire him to do just that. But for outfield depth how about resigning Sappelt, Borbon, or Neal? Any of those guys give the Cubs a chance at a little upside.

    • TWC

      You don’t like the Cubs signing a guy to a minor-league contract?


      • ssckelley

        Not this one, signing a 35 year old outfielder to essentially be a coach does not make much sense to me. It will drive me nuts if I see them call him up in September again unless the Cubs are making a playoff run and need a veteran backup. On a non contending team I think this guy is a waste of spring training and September at bats.

        It is not anything to get shaken up about, I get it is just a minor league deal.

        • Mick

          Sometimes you need a guy like McDonald so that the inmates don’t overrun the asylum. He could also be of value if the Cubs are trying to conserve service time late in the year and/or envision McDonald as a future coach to keep him with the organization. I doubt he’s even anymore than a bat off the bench for Iowa this season.

    • Brett

      They still might. But there’s also Ha, Jackson, Szczur, etc. The Cubs have a lot of meh outfield depth already. Might as well grab a guy who can do some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that’s important to an org in a rebuilding phase.

      I do think your point is fair, though.

    • Luke

      Signing McDonald doesn’t preclude the Cubs also signing Sappelt, Bourbon, or Neal. Those moves would be pretty much unrelated.

      If they run out of roster spots in spring training to keep ’em all, then they waive a few. Not a problem.

      • ssckelley

        Thomas Neal is a guy I am hoping they will grab for another look, it was disappointing when he got hurt. His power has seemed to have disappeared but he does get on base.

    • cub2014

      mcdonald is a good and necessary move. you have to
      have these players in your organization. hopefully not
      at the mlb level. remember he is a career .250 hitter
      that may end up being better than some of these rookies
      we are counting on (unfortunately).

  • hansman

    Mmm, I wonder who gifted this breaking news story to Cotillo?

    • roz

      How does a high school kid get sources? Not that I’m discounting what he’s doing or that I think he doesn’t actually have sources, I’m just wondering how in the hell a high school kid actually gets sources.

      • Rostek

        Speaking as a j-school degree who has worked in sports journalism for a few years, the answer is a lot simpler than people think: You ask.

        You would be surprised at how open agents, scouts, and public relations people are with information. With social media, it makes it even easier to cultivate those relationships. Bear in mind that those people will only give you information they want out there, so you are serving their purpose anyway.

      • hansman

        Bust your butt for a couple years to prove you know what you are doing, build a moderate following and blow up agents phones.

        When an agent throws you a bone on a smaller deal and get it right, they throw you bigger bones.

        The fact he is in high school (his principal is allowing him to take a week off school and attend the winter meetings which should tell you something), in today’s age, means nothing. Brett has built one of the largest and most successful Cubs sites on the net, and he doesn’t live close to Chicago. 10 years ago, this was unthinkable. In 10 years, you may see folks from India be able to do what Brett has done.

        • MichiganGoat

          Wait we can outsource Bert? Oh the possibilities.

          • DarthHater

            Pretty sure the BN Banana Hammocks would not get through US Customs…

            • hansman

              Bah, a couple well placed Benjamins in those hammocks would get them through!

  • Greg

    This deal ONLY makes sense if Darnell is willing to dress as Cubby Bear at Iowa every 5th day.

  • Jon

    This guy was actually a helluva prospect at one time.

    • Jon

      Which of course, was during the Clinton administration :)

  • Spoda17

    I get the move, and I have been very vocal that these moves happen every year… yadda yadda, yadda… and I also get it that no matter how much we read, or see with our own eyes, Theo and Jed have a helluva lot more information than we will ever have… I’m just curious on what Darnell has that some others don’t that may actually have some potential. I thought the last thing we really needed was AAA OF depth.

    But here is a thought… this may be insurance for if/when the FO trades Jackson, Vitters, etc…

  • jtizzle

    Funny story about ole Darnell. I got to go to my season ticket autograph session at Wrigley last September. We waited in a room in anticipation of who we would get to meet. A Cubs brass person comes in and says “this is an up and coming star in the organization, please welcome Darnell McDonald.” So glad this young stud is coming back, now my autograph he signed will increase in value.

    • FarmerTanColin

      Maybe a future front office star?

    • ssckelley

      They seriously introduced him that way? I imagine everyone laughed, right?

      • jtizzle

        People that had a clue chuckled. I was pissed I waited for 30 minutes for him to come in.

  • Cubman

    I think McDonald is a high leadership guy. I remember when Boston cut him, the players were very upset. I belive he went to the Yankees at that point.

  • http://BN Sacko

    There has got to be some great personal relations between Mac and the FO. Otherwise this is totally contrary to rebuilding by singing him to any kind of contract that takes away a spot for any potential player at any level in our system.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Maybe he becomes their new first base coach and OF defense coach. Can he speak Spanish ?

  • Rynomite

    .806 career ops v. lefties in MLB for McDonald. I hope Vitters is the answer to platoon with one of the left-handed OF bats, but McDonald is not a bad fall back option. As Brett noted earlier, the NL average OPS was .724 last year, so if Vitters or Wells or whomever is not the answer as the RH part of a platoon, McDonald actually has a chance to perform above league norms.

    He’s good insurance.

    • http://BN Sacko

      .806 figured with how many AB’s?

      • ssckelley

        463 career plate appearances in his career against lefties. BUT he had 1.179 OPS last year for the Cubs!!!!!!

  • Professor Snarks

    Can’t say this moves me one way or the other, but signings like these happen all the time. The time to get upset is next Sept when we wake and realize he got 400 at bats this year. That will be problematic.

    • ssckelley

      I would be upset after the 1st at bat, after 400 he must have turned into the second coming of The Natural to get that many at bats.


      • Professor Snarks

        Seriously, if he becomes a Reed Johnson type backup, and gets 100 at bats, fine. If he gets anymore, that means no one in the system is better. That is scary. If that happens, and the Cubs don’t try to upgrade, I may start to take those people who think Theo wants to lose on purpose seriously

  • ssckelley

    Perhaps Darnell is a package deal and that his cousin James will be signing soon. 😀

    But seriously, James McDonald would be worth a look.

  • Brian Peters

    Lol!!! I never said I was bummed by the signing. It is, as you said, “no risk,” so I’m all in. I’ve just grown bored waiting for Shark to be moved to a different body of water. Get on with it, Theo, before he injures himself in the offseason or two days before the trade deadline.

  • YourResidentJag

    Jon Heyman ‏@JonHeymanCBS 3m
    Kazmir close to a deal with the a’s, confirmed. @Ken_Rosenthal said 1st

  • North Side Irish

    Scott Kazmir close to 2 year deal with the A’s…was hoping he could be this season’s Feldman. Maybe makes Brett Anderson even more available?

  • Randy

    This is not news

    • TWC

      “In your no-risk-but-will-still-be-inexplicably-criticized-by-meatballs move of the day…”

    • Brett

      Thanks for reading it anyway!

  • cubmig

    ….speaking of signings……….It sure has been quiet on the Samardzija front. ?????