Despite still having the best record in baseball, the Chicago Cubs continue to add at the margins.
Yesterday, that meant something a bit more significant, with the major league signing of free agent reliever Joe Nathan, and today it’s something a bit smaller – a minor league signing, to be precise.
The extent to which these signings will ultimately impact the Chicago Cubs always varies, but is usually quite low. That said, every now and then, the Cubs hit on one of these guys, and the player becomes an integral part of the Major League team. Or sometimes, they wind up helping out at the margins.
Let’s get to know the Cubs’ newest minor league free agent signing, Nick Sarianides.
As reported by Matt Eddy, the Cubs have signed free agent right-handed reliever Nick Sarianides to a minor league deal. Sarianides, 26, was originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 28th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. He made it up to High-A ball with the Indians in 2011, before making the leap to independent baseball in 2012. He played in the Frontier League, the Atlantic League, and the Canadian-American Association from 2012-2013, before finally jumping back into affiliated baseball with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014.
He began the 2014 season in the Diamondbacks A-ball affiliate, and pitched well there in relief. Across 27 IP, Sarianides finished with a 2.33 ERA and a 3.44 K/BB ratio.
In 2015, he was promoted to High-A ball, and continued to perform well, while striking out a ton of batters (this is likely what the Cubs are hoping he can re-access). Across 55.1 innings of relief, Sarianides struck out 40.8% of the hitters he faced, while walking just 7.2%, eventually working his way toward a 2.11 ERA (2.75 FIP). But, to be fair, Sarianides was a 25-year-old relief pitcher in A-ball, so this level of domination doesn’t necessarily tell you a lot.
He did make the jump to AA at the beginning of the 2016 season, but struggled mightily upon his promotion (albeit in a very short sample). Across just 12.1 IP, Sarianides had just an 8.1% strikeout rate to a 17.7% walk rate. That led to a 6.55 FIP and a release from the Diamondbacks on May 5.
Sarianides signed with the Cubs within a week of his release, and now he’ll try to work his way back up the ladder once again. It’s still unclear where exactly Sarianides will head in the Cubs organization, but my guess is something around High-A or higher (based on his previous experience and age). From there, it’ll be all about performance, and maybe he emerges as extreme bullpen depth by the second half of the season.
I know it’s not easy to get too excited about these types of signings, but you actually don’t have to get excited.
The transactions an organization makes, even at the margins, are simply fun to follow. Moreover, knowing as much about the Cubs and the entire organization as possible, including minor, minor league signings like this one helps us all become more-informed Cubs fans (and come up with even more trade proposals for Mike Trout!).