Baseball America has posted the list of minor league free agents, and the Chicago Cubs group includes many familiar names:
- RHP: Alberto Cabrera (AAA), Lendy Castillo (AA), Eduardo Figueroa (Hi A), Marcus Hatley (AAA), Marcos Mateo (AAA), Carlos Pimentel (AAA), Dae-Eun Rhee (AAA)
- C: Charlie Cutler (AA), Nathan Maldonado (High-A)
- 1B: Lars Anderson (AA)
- 2B: Edgar Gonzalez (AAA), Jonathan Mota (AAA), Chris Valaika (AAA)
- OF: Manny Ramirez (AAA), Josh Vitters (AAA)
It was a long ride for former first rounder Josh Vitters with the Cubs, and he may yet return, but after being outrighted last week, Vitters is free to explore his options. He’s still got a quality hit tool, and enough pop to intrigue other teams. He’ll get a minor league deal from someone, and maybe even a Spring Training invite.
Alberto Cabrera had a decent transition to the bullpen at AAA this year, but the walk rate was still a little troubling and the strikeout rate didn’t explode.
Lendy Castillo was the Cubs’ Rule 5 stash pick from before the 2012 season, and, despite the Cubs’ efforts to stash him in 2012 (for which they were punished), he never quite emerged as a quality arm.
Marcus Hatley is a quality relief arm who simply hasn’t been able to break through to the bigs. His peripherals were excellent at AAA this year, and at just 26, he’s a guy you’d like to see the Cubs able to hang onto for depth. I can envision him being a relatively popular minor league free agent.
Marcos Mateo, 30, is a decent reliever who the Diamondbacks took, and returned, in the Rule 5 Draft after he had a dominant offseason in the Dominican Republic. He didn’t get a shot with the Cubs this year, though.
Chris Valaika is a fringe big league utility guy, as we saw this year with the Cubs. He’ll have no trouble being signed somewhere, but it remains to be seen whether the Cubs try to bring him back and keep him at AAA Iowa to start the year as emergency depth.
Manny Ramirez is a free agent, too. Hopefully the Cubs figure out a way to keep him in the organization once his playing days are behind him.