All I can say is that I’m thankful that the signing dropped this morning, after the heat of last night and before the bananas of today. Because if this came AFTER a bunch of huge signings elsewhere around the league, and without the Cubs having done anything this weekend, people would get all riled up. Eh, they probably will.
Not that it’s fair to Locke St. John, the free agent lefty the Chicago Cubs just signed to a minor league deal. This is one of those “perfectly normal and fine and potentially good” signings that every team does – and that the Cubs have had a lot of success with! – but the timing is just gonna make a lot of folks upset. Nothing we can do about that.
As for the uniquely-named pitcher, St. John was a long-time Tigers prospect before the Rangers took him in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft a few years ago. He got a cup with the Rangers in 2019, but ultimately wound up back in the Tigers organization, and pitched in 2021 at Triple-A. There, the 28-year-old reliever posted a sterling 2.58 ERA over 59.1 innings, struck out 29.2%, walked 9.7%, and didn’t give up much in the way of hard contact. It was the kind of year that makes you a bit surprised he never got a look from the rebuilding Tigers, but that does make it unsurprising that he’d be a priority minor league signing for the Cubs, together with outfielder Narciso Crook.
As you can see, St. John has a bit of funk in his delivery, from a three-quarter arm slot:
As of that 2019 stint with the Rangers, he was throwing four pitches (four-seamer, sinker, slider, changeup), and sits around 90 mph with the fastball. I gather that he’s a guy who primarily relies on keeping hitters off-balance, though the minor league strikeout rates have been strong.
We’ll dig in more on St. John as we get closer to Spring Training, where he’ll undoubtedly get a shot to win a bullpen job, but could otherwise head to Triple-A Iowa as necessary reliever depth. Gotta have a lot of these types so that you can hit on a few of them, and the Cubs have been something of a clinic on that front the last few years. The majority will be internal guys this year – the Cubs have developed so many that have reached Triple-A/MLB – but that doesn’t mean you sit out these kinds of no-risk deals.