This is just a good depth retention. Probably doesn’t wind up moving the needle whenever all is said and done, but you need guys like this. Per multiple reports, the Cubs have retained swing man Adrian Sampson on a minor league deal with a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
Sampson, 30, joined the Cubs organization last year after a stint in Korea, and spent most of the year at Triple-A Iowa. There, he pitched to contact, as he does, and had a 4.96 ERA over 81.2 innings. With the big league team late in the year, Sampson made 10 appearances (5 starts), and posted a 2.80 ERA over 35.1 innings. The K (19.3%) and BB (5.5% numbers were really good for him, historically speaking, but the contact was frequently quite loud, as they say.
Sampson is not a “stuff” guy, so he’ll have to manage contact extremely well to be a useful contributor. For example, for his style, you’d like to see better than a 40-ish% groundball rate, because otherwise the home run rate is going to be untenable (as it was for him last year (2.04 per 9)).
All of that is offered as background, not a deep analysis, because the likely reality for Sampson is that he’s flexible depth for the Cubs: he’ll be at Triple-A, in the rotation or the bullpen, ready and waiting to fill in if the big league team has a crunch for which they don’t want to rush a prospect or something like that. It’s a valuable role, and you don’t want to COMPLETELY rule out the possibility that Sampson could wind up putting together a multi-year run as a big league swing arm (I mean, he’s the same age as Alec Mills). This is his second year with the Cubs, and maybe there is a development curve with the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure.
Heck, we might as well think of Sampson as another of the Cubs’ annual reclamation options (albeit of a different type, and with a pre-existing relationship). You never know when something might click to allow a guy to have some surprising success for a little while. Cubs have done it before, many times.