It’s funny to group these signings together as minor league deals, because, although they all are minor league deals, these are fundamentally two very different kinds of signings.
The first set – outfielders Yovanny Cuevas and Samir Lara – are Dominican teenagers signed into the organization as international free agents. I can offer you next to nothing on the two young men, other than the measurements that are listed on their respective MLB.com pages. Neither was a top international prospect in the current IFA class, but you would know that already, because the Cubs are currently prohibited from signing any players for more than $250,000 in this class because they blew their cap in the last IFA class. Thus, the Cubs weren’t going to be in on any of the big names this time around, though you never know where the diamonds in the rough will come from (and it’s not like $250,000 is a small signing bonus – it’s just not one of the top 50 or so). Given the timing of these signings, it’s a fair bet that the Cubs have been following the duo for a while (being that they didn’t sign as soon as they were eligible). Cuevas only just turned 16 in late July.
The other kind of minor league signing discussed here is a totally different animal – it’s a minor league deal for 28-year-old righty Anthony Carter, a former big league pitcher. That deal, as reported by Steve Adams, comes with an invite to Spring Training.
Carter was a long-time power pitcher in the White Sox organization before stops in the Red Sox organization and Padres organization (where else?) in 2013 and 2014. He found strong success in his year at AAA in the bullpen for the Red Sox in 2013, with an enormous spike in his strikeout rate (such a significant spike that he must have changed something dramatically in his pitch mix or his velocity or something). From there, he latched onto the Padres on a minor league deal for 2014, but, when it he didn’t make the team out of Spring Training, the Padres sold his rights to the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan, which looks like was a mutual decision (as you may recall from the Bryan LaHair situation, sometimes guys who clearly have the talent for AAA, but who haven’t broken through in the big leagues, want to head over to Japan as they approach 30 so they can make some money while still in their prime). Carter’s stats in his year in Japan were only so-so.
For the Cubs, it’s a no-risk signing to bring another arm to Spring Training to compete for a bullpen job, and then most likely head to AAA for depth. With a 40-man roster crunch looming and some pitchers without options who may not make the team, the Cubs could probably stand to have that extra depth already there and available at AAA in case they lose a pitcher or two in the Spring Training roster shuffle. Indeed, depending on the Cubs’ moves the rest of the offseason, they may lose a depth reliever or two off of the 40-man roster before Spring Training even arrives.