chicago cubs logoToday, 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.

  • Joe H

    Any thoughts on whether or not Vitters has a legitimate opportunity to make the MLB roster as a 5th outfielder, RH-platoon player?

    • Brett

      Oof. I guess the fact that I inadvertently omitted him semi-answers your question.

      Mostly it was just the injury-marred 2013 season that keeps him out of my mind. Yeah, he’s got a shot. It would help if he could play right field, though.

      • DarthHater

        Why would Vitters have less of a shot in RF than in LF? As a former 3B, I assume he has a decent arm.

        • hansman

          Brett’s saying he has more of a shot. Positional flexibility.

          • Brett

            Yes. We just don’t yet know if he actually has that flexibility since we haven’t seen him out there.

            • Spriggs

              What I have seen of Vitters in LF and RF (only a few times last year and also in the his last AFL year) is just not encouraging at all. He is not a versatile fielder. He will need a ton of practice in my opinion to have any chance to be even a servicable OF’er. He just doesn’t do anything well in the field and doesn’t play balls well at all. It looked totally alien and unnatural to him. He does have a decent arm, but it isn’t at all special – just maybe a tick above average. I hold out very little hope that he will be in the OF in Chicago this year for an significant stretch. Plus his bat will really have to pick it up if he is to land in the corner OF

              • FarmerTanColin

                Reminds me of an ex Cubs prospect I really wanted to like. David Kelton.

      • Robert

        Brett Jackson ?

        He and Josh Vitters still have more upside than all the other players mentioned.

        • FarmerTanColin

          I think Kalish needs to be in this conversation. BJax has a really bad “achilles heel” and is looking like he may be off to greener pastures.

  • FarmerTanColin

    Here’s a pretty good scouting report on Wada.

    Legit on a minor league deal.

    • terencemann

      Yeah, this is one of my favorite minor league signings to date. Could be an average pitcher for sure.

  • itzscott

    Doesn’t look too good for Brett Jackson, eh?

  • WI Jeff

    Is Ja Hoon Ha, Matt Szczur or Brett Jackson leaving/traded/cut from the organization before/after spring training with all these “signed & added” options?

    • Noah_I

      Many of the minor league signees won’t remain with the organization after spring training. It is likely the Cubs will prioritze starting Ja, Szczur and Jackson over the minor league signees at whatever level the team wants to place them at.

      • cms0101

        Agreed. I think Szczur, Ha, Silva, Andreoli could all be playing in Iowa this season, with maybe room for one of Jackson or the other veteran minor leaguers. Jackson may have to stay in Tennessee to start out though, as he never quite hit there last year either. Maybe one or two of the other guys stick. Plus, Vitters probably is in Iowa too.

  • When the Music’s Over

    Guess the Cubs have identified extreme quantity over quality as the new market inefficiency.

  • http://BN Sacko

    With us signing all these Who? would be like another team signing Vitters and Jackson and they would say Who? Whats the way of all these guys considering what we already have in the minors? I don’t understand it.

    • BWA

      In Spring Training they will get a look at these guys and decide who is worth keeping around as outfield depth. Most of them will be sent away. I’m personally really liking the Wada signing.

      An example of this working out last year is Ryan Sweeney.

      • C. Steadman

        Bogusevic was a non-roster guy, sent to Iowa, and then brought up as an injury replacement…Blake Parker was also a non-roster guy

    • cms0101

      They need depth for spring training, at minimum. From there, maybe an injury or two happens and they don’t want to rush anyone, so these guys get another summer under the sun… in Iowa. Every now and then one of them breaks through and becomes a 4th OF or late blooming platoon guy at a cheap cost.

  • jt

    perhaps they are stocking up depth to allow potential trades?

  • Chef Brian

    I think they are just trying to motivate through competition. This isn’t the league’s most talented group, but with any luck, a healthy competition may produce a keeper or two and the rest can shake out as organizational filler. It will at least give the team options.

  • Spoda17

    Last night on MLB TV, they were talking about how teams approach these types of signings, and how some teams are good at it, and not so good at it… they pigtailed it to how Boston won the World Series by making the right minor (not this minor of course) deals. Mitch Williams and Bill Ripken did a good job with the topic.

  • Cizzle

    So is this straight platoon possibly effective:
    vs. Lefties:
    LF: Lake .850 OPS (last year .956 v. lefties)
    RF: Vitters .800 OPS (obviously this is a crap shoot)
    CF: Ruggiano: .725 OPS (.701 career v. lefties)

    vs. Righties:
    RF: Schierholtz: .825 OPS (.799 career v. righties)
    CF: Ruggiano: .825 OPS (.834 career v. righties)
    LF: Sweeneey: .750 OPS (.750 career v. righties)

    A .795 OPS across the outfield wouldn’t be too shabby. It’s kind of like the “rotation by committee” that the Rockies never had the balls to go forward with.

    • hookersorcake

      I think you have Ruggiano’s splits turned around. If he was 834 vs righties for his career. He’d have a helluva career.

      • FarmerTanColin

        Yeah Sweeney I believe didn’t have strong splits either way. Could be the every day guy if they roll with just 5 OFers, or if Watkins makes the team he could be the 6th guy needed for a true OF platoon. Considering he hardly played last year I doubt this happens.

  • cub2014

    I see that Wada was signed to compete
    for the 5th starters spot.

    I like it we trade Bogusevic for Ruggioni
    and then resign Bogusevic (Maier) kind
    of the same player.

    If we dont sign any OF’ers: Lake will
    play everyday and the splits will be
    Sweeney/Vitters & Rugg/Schierholtz
    until Lake proves he cant do it.