Today, the Chicago Cubs confirmed the minor league signings of lefties Tsuyoshi Wada, Jonathan Sanchez, and Tommy Hottovy. We discussed Wada previously here, Sanchez previously here, and Hottovy previously here. Insert me saying the same stuff again.
Added to the group today, however, is outfielder Mitch Maier. At one time a notable prospect for the Royals, Maier never broke out as a starter in the big leagues, instead putting together a couple decent years as a utility outfielder in his late 20s in Kansas City. Now 31, Maier will serve as depth for the Cubs, who are currently sporting an outfield rotation with quite a bit of depth already – but without much impact talent. Maier can play each of the outfield positions.
To win a job on the big league team, Maier would have to beat out at least a couple of the Junior Lake, Ryan Sweeney, Justin Ruggiano, Nate Schierholtz, Casper Wells, Aaron Cunningham, Darnell McDonald, and Ryan Kalish group. Your early bet for the five that make the roster are the first five, with Maier, Cunningham, and Kalish (and McDonald, if he sticks around) heading to AAA Iowa after Spring Training. They probably won’t all still be with the organization after Spring Training. You’ve also got Josh Vitters, now an outfielder, mixed in there somewhere, but I’m thinking that the Cubs would carry him only if he could also play right field. Not sure whether that will prove to be the case.
So far, the Cubs’ minor league deal group is fairly substantial, including Wada, Sanchez, Hottovy, Maier, Wells, Cunningham, Kalish, McDonald, Ryan Roberts, John Baker, Carlos Pimental, Paolo Espino, Eli Whiteside, Jeudy Valdez, Walter Ibarra, and Chris Valaika.