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 , RHP  (claimed off waivers from NYY last month), and LHP .

All three will presumably receive an NRI to Spring Training. 

The fourth non-tendered player (3B ) 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. , RHP (ex-ATL)
2. , RHP (ex-LAD)
3., RHP (ex-PIT)
4. , 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... 


The Cubs have not yet released thrir NRI list for 2017 Spring Training, but here is an early preliminary projected list (obviously subject to change):

* bats or throws left
# bats both

Andury Acevedo
Dallas Beeler
Corey Black
Maikel Cleto
Trevor Clifton
Daniel Corcino
Seth Frankoff
Jhondaniel Medina
Miguel Mejia
Jordan Pries
Nick Sarianides
Ryan Williams

Cael Brockmeyer 
Taylor Davis
P. J. Higgins

# Ian Happ  

John Andreoli
Eloy Jimenez 
* Bijan Rademacher 
Mark Zagunis

Expect the Cubs to sign at least one veteran defense-first catcher they can stash at Iowa (as they did with Tim Federowicz in 2016 and with Taylor Teagarden in 2015).

One possible candidate is Ryan Hanigan, who played for Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay in 2014.

Hanigan also could conceivably serve as Jon Lester's personal catcher if things don't mesh between Lester and Willson Contreras and/or if Maddon wants to go with three catchers on the 25-man roster and Kyle Schwarber isn't able to be the #3. 

The Cubs also will likely look to sign at least one infielder with MLB experience who can play SS and who they can keep at Iowa. Munenori Kawasaki would be a good possibility if he wants to come back, but it's hard to sell a AAA gig (even as an everyday player) to a veteran.  

poor ryan hanigan...they dragged him to the bigs last year to catch knuckleballer steven didn't go well all the time, but he still got the job done.

Phil, I was hoping Chesny Young would make your invite list.

HAGSAG: Good catch. I probably should have put him on the list. 

The Cubs ever actually sign Uehara? Lots of buzz about it, but I never saw it confirmed.

BILLYBUCKS: The Uehara signing has not been officially reported yet.

There is often a delay between when a signing is reported in the media and when the club announces the signing and files the contract with MLB (especially for a player signed during the off-season).

Jesse Rogers‏ @ESPNChiCubs The Cubs and pitcher Koji Uehara have agreed to terms. One year for $6 million.

be fun to see him and hendricks back to back...guys get in on some 88mph cheese followed up by a guy who throws about 85mph.

Guess I just had to ask. OK, let's try it again: "Did the Cubs ever actually sign Mike Trout?"

The Cubs have officially signed Trout for an infield rake


i'm gonna miss that rake, but the club could use an upgrade in CF.

The Cubs Can of Simoniz has not been available for comment, but some speculate it may request a trade following the departure of Infield Rake.

now i just hate this trade. this trout guy better be good.

The MLBPA Executive Board has ratified the 2016-21 CBA, so it is official. (MLB owners ratified the agreement earlier this week).

The CBA will expire on December 1, 2021. 


David Rollins DFA again. Another lefty option!

Just as a reminder, clubs now have only seven days to trade, outright, or release a player who has been Designated for Assignment (used to be ten days).  

With three slots open on the 40-man roster, I would expect the Cubs to claim David Rollins and most any other warm body who gets placed on waivers after being Designated for Assignment, like maybe Red Sox 2011 2nd round draft pick LHP (ex-OF) Williams Jerez (who was drafted by the Red Sox when Theo was there) and one-time Nationals Top 10 prospect LHP Matt Purke (a true "LOOGY" who is death on LH hitters), and then if and when any of the three slots are needed, the players claimed off waivers (if there are any) will be the first to go. 

What could go wrong? Ask the Barves Gm twitter

Oh man do I love all the crap he got for that. Wish he had taken a moment to even give lip service to compensating employees for labor and opening up opportunities for people who don't carry a significant financial safety net.

on a somewhat related note: NBA just ratified their new deal and are paying their minor leaguers $50K-$75K a season.

Minor league baseball players get around $10-$15K a season I believe. Yes, some get nice bonuses, most don't.

ROB G: NBA "minor leaguers" are more-comparable to players on an MLB 40-man roster who have a minor league "split salary" if they are optioned to the minors. (The NBA "D"-league is like AAA in baseball). The 2017 MLB minimum minor league "split salary" is $86,500, so that's comparable to the salaries of NBA D-league players.

And minor league 6YFA (the ones who get an NRI to Spring Training, like the guys the Cubs signed this week)  usually get around $50,000 (or even upwards of $100,000+ if the player has MLB experience), because they have some leverage as free-agents.  

Minor league baseball players who are not on MLB 40-man rosters and are not yet eligible to be free-agents (like John Andreoli, Taylor Davis, Jordan Pries, and most-all of the amateur players drafted and/or signed by the Cubs over the past six or seven years) are the ones making $10K-$15K per year, but there is no real comp to that in pro basketball. Maybe that would be more like college basketball? 

BTW. that's why minor league players really need to save their signing bonus, because they might not ever see money like that again, or at least not anytime soon. Unfortunately, some of them blow through their bonus in a matter of months, and I've known a number of minor league players over the years (even a few high draft picks) who were flat-broke and had to rely on their parents, wife, or girlfriend to support them.

OMG PHIL! So they go out and buy Mercedes' and expensive clothes, etc.? Isn't ther some financial conseling like the NFL has FINALLY been doing? No doubt as you've said - those without the discipline probably blow right through that bonus.

ESPN's 30-for-30 "Broke" should be mandatory viewing for all professional athletes. Hey, you're 20, you're talented, never had to work for a thing in your life, everybody always telling you how great you are, and suddenly you get a bunch of money -- why not assume the good times will continue to roll? The percentage of pro athletes who are bankrupt 5 years after retirement is staggering.

...and on the flipside we have matt harrington, who managed to parlay his top-ranked talent into working at costco. he turned down a couple 1-4 million dollar contracts and another one for a few hundred thousand over a number of years. he cut out the middle man and went straight for isle 3.

You don't like Costco?

obviously not.

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  • Eric S 6 hours 47 min ago (view)

    Unfortunately, Kimbrel in Cub mid season form as well, giving up a two out, two run oppo homer to Willson. 

    Kimbrel Cub stats which I tried to bury but were dug up again: gave up a career high 9 home runs in only 20 2/3 inning, averaged a career high 9.1 hits allowed per 9 innings and served up a 6.53 ERA for his troubles. And no full spring training build up period again.  Still hopeful he's got something left in the tank this year and next but man, he's got my full attention going into the season


  • BobbyD 7 hours 13 min ago (view)

    Hmm. Never thought about it that way. Maybe it is a very stable genius? 


  • crunch 9 hours 53 min ago (view)

    maybe he's hoping it'll be bad enough to flip the population odometer over to 0 after humanity is wiped from the planet.  let's give him more time to see if he's right before we get too down on him.


  • crunch 9 hours 56 min ago (view)

    "Shohei Ohtani threw just 15 of his 50 pitches for strikes in an intrasquad game Tuesday.  Trent Rush had him at eight walks, a hit by pitch and six wild pitches before he was shut down for a day. "



  • crunch 9 hours 57 min ago (view)

    anthony rizzo is in mid-season form.

    he sat out today with lower back tightness.


  • BobbyD 11 hours 20 min ago (view)

    Well, back in February (I think; that was about 17 years ago now), our diaper staining commander in his own mind declared we had 15 cases in the U.S. and that would quickly go to zero. 130k dead and rapidly rising now 4 months later I still have brain dead neighbors in SoCal saying if Biden gets elected we're screwed. I wonder what they think screwed looks like. 


  • crunch 18 hours 15 min ago (view)

    cubs taking full advantage of that "night games deal" with the wrigleyville neighborhood...almost all the home games will be night games.

    8 home day games, 6 on the weekend.


  • crunch 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    deleted that link.  it was a republished-to-feed article, not a new one, so it's not very useful.


  • cubbies.4ever 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    Is Cubs 3rd draft pick Jordan Nwogu not going to sign?  Most teams are done signing.  Since the Cubs have the other 4 signed there's not a question of negotiations.  I thought Little (using his viral video of 105 mph as leverage) or Moreno being a promising HS SP would be the tough ones.


  • Jackstraw 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    Apparently being run by the same guy who put Quintana in charge of washing dishes.


  • Cubster 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    Joey Gallo tests Positive. 


  • Cubster 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    MLBPA sent a memo to player agents Monday saying that it and the league are “actively pursuing an additional medical lab site to increase the speed and efficiency of test processing and reporting,” Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets.


  • Cubster 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    4-29-20: White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told "FOX & Friends" Wednesday morning that he expects to see life go "back to normal" in the U.S. by June and "the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again."

    Well, that prediction has held up especially well in FL, TX, AZ and CA


  • George Altman 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    I'm beginning to think maybe this guy doesn't have a good grasp on being President. 


  • crunch 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    "Angels summer camp workouts are optional on Monday due to COVID-19 testing delays.

    The testers simply failed to show up to Angels camp on Sunday, and there were also apparently some shipping issues with samples during the July 4 holiday weekend. The Astros, Nationals, and Cardinals have outright canceled their Monday workouts because of delays within MLB's testing protocol."

    neat.  this is going just great.

    but hey, i'm sure a month from now we'll be done with all this crazy virus stuff going players consider multi-game road trips through FL/TX/AZ/CA.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 14 hours ago (view)

    With players dropping like flies and others opting-out, methinks the MLB season could resemble the last three innings of a Cactus League Spring Training game.