Cubs Reportedly Sign James McDonald to a Minor League Deal

chicago cubs logoIt’s sign-a-lower-tier-pitcher Friday!

Not content to agree to terms with Jason Hammel (reportedly), today the Chicago Cubs also agreed to a deal with righty James McDonald, formerly of the Pirates. That report comes via Bruce Levine, who says it’s a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.

Assuming Levine is correct, McDonald is a decent add on a minor league deal, and I expect he’s got an MLB split salary put in place if he actually makes the big league roster at some point.

McDonald, 29, came to the Pirates in 2010 trade with the Dodgers. From there, McDonald had fits and spurts as a successful starter with the Pirates (who can forget his Cy Young first half in 2012 (2.37 ERA … and then a 7.52 ERA in the second half)), but fell way off in 2013 while dealing with persistent shoulder discomfort. The Pirates outrighted him in September, and he’s been a free agent ever since. Not finding a big league deal, he evidently settled for a minor league gig with the Cubs.

If the shoulder is well enough, McDonald is a fine option to slot into that 6/7/8/9 range in the rotational depth pool. In his last healthy year with the Pirates in 2012, McDonald posted an ERA of 4.21 over 171 innings. His FIP was also 4.21. Hey, his xFIP was also 4.21. This is a guy who knows how to pair his output to his performance!

For his career, McDonald has struck out 7.8 per 9, while walking 4.1 per 9. He had some bullpen experience earlier in his career, and may have to settle into a swing role going forward if he’s going to make another big league team. Whether it’ll be the Cubs depends on a number of factors external to his performance – injuries, trades, etc. – as well as how he looks in the Spring. If he doesn’t make the team, he could head to Iowa and hang around as depth, or it’s possible he’ll be turned loose to seek another opportunity.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

122 responses to “Cubs Reportedly Sign James McDonald to a Minor League Deal”

  1. Fastball

    All the math in the world can’t change the results. I am so hopeful that these guys overachieve. But the math tells the story at the end of the season. I hope 1/3 of this 25 man roster is rolled by June and we have our young prospects who have forced them out. Here’s too hope and better totals when we do our fuzzy math. :)

  2. Beast Mode

    I find it odd that any teams fans could rip any FO or organization because of too many( I guess) minor league signings.

  3. mysterious4th

    Just saw that Rany Wells is throwing for teams. I know he was crap for the Cubs after his rookie season (or after the first half of his second of his season.) But, this is the type of players the Cubs have targeted during the Epstein/Hoyer/McCloud era. Sign him to a minor league contract use him as dept and who knows he might have a resurgence and he could easily flipoed for a prospect or two. So, basically sign wells to a minor league contract. Not much risk involved in signing him to a minor league contract

  4. nkniacc13

    I wonder if the cubs are doing what they did last year and sign a bunch of these guys to minor league contracts and then inturn flip them for ptbn. They did that a bunch last year and im guessing some if not all were for cash do you know for sure how many were cash Brett?

  5. DarthHater
  6. A Possible Waiver Explanation: Is James McDonald Getting a Major League Deal? | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] when the Cubs reportedly agreed to terms with pitcher James McDonald? It was the same day as the reported Hammel signing, and was originally reported as a minor league […]

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