Cubs Sign Four Free-Agent Pitchers to Minor League Contracts
12/14 UPDATE: Baseball America reports that the Cubs have re-signed three of the four players who were non-tendered on 12/2 to 2017 minor league contracts: LHP Gerardo Concepcion, RHP Conor Mullee (claimed off waivers from NYY last month), and LHP Zac Rosscup.
All three will presumably receive an NRI to Spring Training.
The fourth non-tendered player (3B Christian Villanueva) did not re-sign with the Cubs, so he will probably try his luck with a new organization (could be seeking a major league deal). Villanueva would be blocked by both Kris Bryant and Jeimer Candelario if he were to remain with the Cubs.
Concepcion was non-tendered so that the Cubs would not have to pay him a $600,000 minor league "split salary" in 2017, Mullee missed the last half of the 2016 season with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (may have undergone surgery), and Rosscup underwent shoulder surgery last March.
By non-tendering Concepcion, Mullee, and Rosscup and then re-signing them to minor league contracts, the Cubs were able to remove the trio from the MLB 40-man roster without exposing the players to waivers, and by waiting a week to re-sign them, the Cubs did not risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft.
ORIGINAL POST (12/13) - Baseball America is reporting that the Cubs have signed four free-agent pitchers to 2017 minor league contracts.
All four will likely receive an NRI to Spring Training with the big club.
Three of the names are probably somewhat familiar, as two of them have pitched in the big leagues with other MLB organizations, and a third was in the Cubs minor league system last season.
As a practical matter the four were officially signed after the Rule 5 Draft so that they would not be eligible for selection, but the contracts were likely negotiated sometime earlier in the off-season.
1. Maikel Cleto, RHP (ex-ATL)
2. Daniel Corcino, RHP (ex-LAD)
3. Jhondaniel Medina, RHP (ex-PIT)
4. Miguel Mejia, RHP (ex-CUBS)
Owner of a 97-98 MPH fastball, the 27-year old Cleto was signed by the Seatttle Mariners out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 and was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for SS Brendan Ryan 2010... he was rated by Baseball America as having the best fastball,in the SAL in 2008 (he was hitting 99 on the gun back then) and was a BA organizational Top 20 prospect three times (#16 post-2008 for SEA and #16 post-2010 and #14 post-2012 with STL)... he was a starting pitcher through the 2011 season, but then was moved to the bullpen... he was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals in 2013 and then was claimed off waivers by the White Sox in 2014, and he got most of his big league work with the Sox (28 games in 2014)... he pitched in 41 MLB games combined between the Cardinals and the White Sox (working to a combined 6.60 ERA and 1.76 WHIP but with 58 K in just 45 IP) in 2011-14 (he had some crazy K/9 numbers in the minors, too) but was outrighted to AAA by the Sox in 2015... he split the 2016 season between Laguna (Mexican League) and AAA Gwinnett (ATL)... he is presently working out of the bullpen for Licey in Liga de Beisbol Dominicano... he is out of minor league options (0+169 MLB Service Time) should he be called up to Chicago and added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at some point in 2017, and since he has been outrighted previously in his career, he would be able to elect to be a free-agent if he is outrighted again...
Corcino is 26 and was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic in 2006... he was ranked by Baseball America as one of the Reds Top 15 prospects four years in a row (as high as #6 after the 2011 season and #4 after 2012), drawing comps (at the time) to Johnny Cueto... back when he was a stud prospect with the Reds, BA reported that he was presenting a 91-94 MPH fastball with movement, a plus-slider, and a promising change-up... he was on the MLB 40-man roster of the Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers (he was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers in 2015) for three seasons and he had a "cup of coffee" with the Reds in late 2014 but was back in the minors in 2015-16... he is currently working out of the bullpen for Escogido in Liga de Beisbol Dominicano... like Cleto, Corcino is out of minor league options (0+034 MLB Service Time) should he be called up to Chicago and added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at some point in 2017, and since he has been outrighted previously in his career, he would be able to elect to be a free-agent if he is outrighted again...
At 23, Medina is the youngest of the foursome... he was signed as a 16-year old by the Baltimore Orioles out of Venezuela in 2009 and was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012... after seven seasons in the minors, he finally reached AAA in 2016... Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs reported in April 2016 that the 5'11 Medina was featuring a 92-94 MPH fastball that touched 96, an above-average splitter, and a decent curve, but he also continues to have command issues (207 BB in 393 IP in 198 career minor league games)... he was declared a first-time minor league 6YFA after the conclusion of the World Series...
The 28-year old Mejia was born in Brooklyn but grew up in Puerto Rico... he was signed as a NDFA by the Detroit Tigers out of Florida International University in 2009 and spent three seasons in the Tigers system... he then pitched for the Saitamo Seibu Lions in Japan (NPB) during the summer and for Caguas (Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente) in winter ball 2011-16... he left Japan and signed a minor league contract with the Cubs last off-season and he split the 2016 season between AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa... he has been pitching out of the bullpen for Caguas again this off-season, and he could be a reliever for Team Puerto Rico in the 2017 WBC...
jdrnym 5 hours 14 min ago (view)
Hey AZPhil, when a player is released with money/years still remaining on his contract, does his next team *have* to give him the prorated major league minimum or can they offer more (meaning the original club owes less) to "outbid" other teams that may have had interest? I'm assuming that's what happened with Brad Brach, where the Mets signed him for 2020 at $850,000.
crunch 5 hours 58 min ago (view)
jeremy jeffress agrees.
Rob Richardson 9 hours 39 min ago (view)
It's high time if you ask me.
crunch 9 hours 56 min ago (view)
as awesome as bryant is, it would probably be good for the cubs to find him a new home before his play at 3rd turns him into a corner OF'r...which seems inevitable sooner than later.
i'm still impressed how much his D improved since he was drafted, but he's already losing a step at the position early in his career.
crunch 10 hours 2 min ago (view)
minor league ballplayers will no longer have to worry about getting suspended for testing positive for weed...it's off the prohibited substances list.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 14 min ago (view)
3B Alec Bohm and RHSP Spencer Howard would likely be the Cubs asking price and the Phils probably say no, but if they don't say no, that could be a deal.
crunch 23 hours 37 min ago (view)
Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine
Cubs have had talks with Phils on Bryant. Nothing there at the moment. Service time grievance still an issue.
bradsbeard 1 day 12 min ago (view)
Humerous 30 minutes this morning when both Mark Gonzalez and Gordon Wittenmyer tweeted out that the Cubs would be receiving Conor Lillis-White as the PTBNL in the Tommy La Stella trade as if it were just now happening.
crunch 1 day 22 hours ago (view)
marvin miller and ted simmons are part of the next HOF class.
long time coming for miller.
crunch 2 days 3 hours ago (view)
things that are important to good on-field play like buying up all the property around wrigley field, from rooftops to acerage, isn't going to monetize itself.
i know some people would love to have a top tier pitcher, but i'm looking forward to more control of rooftop advertising and an open air beer garden near the team owned hotel and resturant complexes.
i know some people want a solid leadoff man, but i'm looking forward to seeing 10-20 concerts on off-days destroying the playing field so that extra revenue can help a polician in Nebraska or Iowa get some ad buys.
Hagsag 2 days 4 hours ago (view)
Their friend Donald will come through for them.
crunch 2 days 5 hours ago (view)
remember when the billionaire owners got a huge double digit tax cut?
maybe the city should do them a favor and give them more tax savings help to let them buy and build another 2-3 revenue projects outside of the park. that might help these struggling heroes find some extra loot.
i know this rant isn't fair, but my "dan winkler got a MLB contract fever" is dying down a bit.
crunch 2 days 5 hours ago (view)
f'real. i don't even know why they're going to bother playing games. i'm over here printing Cubs 2020 World Series Champs banners while others are sleeping on reality.
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 6 hours ago (view)
Just saw a fun report that the Cubs are telling even budget type free agents they can't currently negotiate until they clear some payroll. So that's a fun start to the winter meetings.
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 6 hours ago (view)
I'm with you 100% on that. Minor league retreads are fine and all but we don't need to be paying premiums for middle relief.