The Cubs Sign Their X-Factor
Tim Brown of Yahoo breaks the story that the Cubs have signed outfielder Xavier Nady on a one year deal...dollar amount yet to be determined (likely in the 3-4.5M range according to Levine). Out of the names mentioned so far - Jermaine Dye, Rocco Baldelli, and Johnny Gomes, Nady was probably my preference on the assumption that he's recovered fully from his second Tommy John Surgery. According to Tim Brown, the physical is later this week but Nady's been throwing regularly and without problems. Before we get into the player, let's talk about the injury. Dr. Hecht in the comments dropped this note about having multiple TJ surgeries yesterday.
The basic operation takes a tendon graft from the forearm from a small tendon called the palmaris longus.
On a second surgery they have to take a graft from somewhere else. Other sites are available (the other arm or a tendon from the calf (plantaris) but that means he's gonna have two limbs involved to recovery. I'm not sure why his graft failed but it's pretty unusual for this to happen (expecially when it's not a pitcher). This would make me a bit leary too (Chad Fox alert!) but my guess is he'll be OK.
As for the player, Nady is best in right and left field, but has played 82 games at first base, 45 in center field and even 3 games at third base. Chances are he'll stick to right, left and occasionaly first base and likely send Micah Hoffpauir to Triple A with Sam Fuld getting the roster spot as 5th outfielder and back-up center fielder although a poor showing in spring training or extremely strong one by Hoffpauir could change that.
Nady has a lifetime 108 OPS+ (.792), .342 woBA and is 31 years old. His walk rate of 5.8% per plate appearance is pretty poor and a 19.9% K rate isn't too great either. The projection systems on his Fangraphs page all peg him in the high 700 to low 800's in OPS. His main duty will be as platoon partner to Kosuke Fukudome and his 3-year splits are:
vs LHP: 278/358/454 812 in 227 AB's
vs RHP: 297/340/504 844 in 787 AB's
227 AB's isn't much to draw any firm conclusions upon, but it does appear that he's someone who you won't have to waste 2 players on in late-inning lineup juggling as he seems to handle righties just fine. His other main duty will be as pinch hitter where he's had all of 58 PA's for a 255/397/426 slash line. I assume if all goes right, he'd also be one of the candidates to DH in interleague games when that time comes.
Assuming Nady passes his physical and can make the throw from right field still, I think you have to like this signing. The Cubs aren't likely to get the player that tore it up for the Pittsburgh Pirates to start the 2008 season and ended with 25 HR's and 97 RBI's after being traded to the New York Yankess. But he's definitely shown enough with the bat that he should do more good than harm if he can handle not getting regular at-bats. And if something should happen to Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome, Lee or even Ramirez I suppose, the Cubs will have a very solid replacement ready to step in on a regular basis.