When the Cubs signed veteran catcher Chris Gimenez to a minor league deal last week, the baseball-related conclusion was that it was a perfectly swell signing, given his ability to handle a staff, his defensive value, and his success against lefties at the plate. With youngster Victor Caratini currently slated to be Willson Contreras’s backup, it’s a very good idea to have a veteran catcher in the fold, if only to give the Cubs options.
But none of that is what got the bulk of attention, and understandably so. Gimenez, it turns out, was previously Yu Darvish’s personal catcher in Texas, and the two became good friends. Thus, given the Darvish pursuit, the Cubs adding Gimenez was an eyebrow-raiser, even if we acknowledge he totally makes sense regardless of the Darvish stuff. (And he can pitch!)
So, with that signing about a week in the rearview, it’s only fair to ask: has Gimenez been recruiting his friend to the Cubs?
If he has, he’s not admitting it. But he has been talking to Darvish *A LOT* since he signed with the Cubs, and he also has a great sense of humor:
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 27, 2018
First of all: how much does that guy sound like a member of the front office? He just has that way about communicating his thoughts, and about supporting his friend while simultaneously suggesting that of course he wants Darvish to sign with the Cubs. Unless he completely breaks in Spring Training, I’m just saying, this dude is making the team.
Second of all, how about that line about the statue? “If he happened to sign [with the Cubs], they might make a statue of me before I even get to Wrigley Field.” It’s funny because it’s true. [UPDATE: SOMEONE GET BUILDING.]
As Gimenez says, of course, he’s not going to be the deciding factor for Darvish, and I understand that delicate balance as a friend – of course you want to play with your buddy, but you also know that he’s making a life-altering decision, and you want him to do what’s best for himself.
Ultimately, Darvish’s comfort with an organization, and the contract he receives, will go much further to determining where he signs. It sounds like negotiations are still ongoing (presuming Jed Hoyer was including Darvish among those players with whom the club is still talking), and we’ll just have to keep waiting.
Here’s hoping the duo are reunited in the coming weeks. Pitchers and catchers report in under three weeks …