The Chicago Cubs have confirmed another couple minor league signings, pitcher Carlos Pimentel and outfielder Mike Baxter.
Pimentel, who only just turned 25, was one of the most desirable minor league free agents last year, being that he was still very much considered a prospect in the Rangers’ system, and then went on to win pitcher of the year honors in the Dominican Winter League. The righty was a relatively nice signing for the Cubs last year, but he didn’t pitch as well in his first turn at AAA in 2014 as he had in recent years at AA: 5.35 ERA (5.73 FIP) over 101 innings split between the rotation and the bullpen. There is still some upside there, but some of the shine wore off over the past 12 months. Still, it’s always nice to get a guy like Pimentel in on a minor league deal, and perhaps the continuity of staying in the organization for another year will help.
Pimentel may get an invite to big league camp, but he’s likely to start the year as depth at AAA Iowa, perhaps once again moving back and forth between the rotation and bullpen as necessary.
Baxter, 30, looked like he was going to emerge as a late bloomer a couple years ago for the Mets, hitting .263/.365/.413 (116 wRC+) over 211 plate appearances at the big league level in 2012. He didn’t get a shot to repeat in 2013, was put on the bench, and eventually sent back to the minors. From there he bounced to the Dodgers’ organization, and now he signs with the Cubs.
Baxter, who bats lefty, can play all over the outfield, though he’s mostly stuck to the corners in recent years. He’s a career .280/.353/.428 hitter in the minor leagues, with a walk rate routinely in the 10 to 12% range (and a strikeout rate not much higher), and has hit .286/.366/.460 over multiple AAA stops.
For the Cubs, Baxter will likely come to Spring Training before heading to AAA Iowa to compete for (and very likely win) a regular gig in the Iowa outfield. He’ll be depth in case of injury or ineffectiveness at the big league level, and, in that capacity, he appears to be one of the better gets out there. His track record suggests the kind of guy who, if he gets a shot, could prove to be a useful big league piece, at least in a reserve role facing righties.