Cubs Ink Four Players to Minor League Deals … and Other News and Notes

The Cubs did not announce they found any deals on Black Friday but four minor league signings were announced prior to Thanksgiving. The Cubs signed outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Johermyn Chavez plus infielder Alberto Gonzalez and catcher J.C. Boscan. Bogusevic, Gonzalez and Boscan should have received non-roster invites to Spring Training.

The signing of J.C. Boscan leaked last week and while the former Braves’ farmhand does not figure into the Cubs plans at the big league level, Boscan has a reputation of being a good defensive catcher and one that is very familiar with Arodys Vizcaino. The 14-year minor league veteran should help with the development of the pitching staff, as well as Steve Clevenger, at Iowa next season

On the surface, all four minor league signings appear to be defensive upgrades to an organization that struggled in the field a year ago.

Bogusevic, Gonzalez, Chavez and Boscan

Brian Bogusevic
Brian Bogusevic is the most notable of the four signing that were announced Wednesday. The Cubs officially signed Bogusevic on November 14 and the Oak Lawn native should compete for a spot on the 25-man roster in the spring.

Many remember Bogusevic for his walk-off grand slam against the Cubs and Carlos Marmol on August 16, 2011. Bogusevic has hit much better on the road (.258/.327/.369/.696) than at home (.192/.292/.319/.611) in his short career. Bogusevic will play next season at 29 (February 18, 1984) and the former first round pick (24th overall selection by Astros in 2005) will get a fresh start with a new organization after not living up to expectations with Houston.

Brian Bogusevic’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Alberto Gonzalez
Alberto Gonzalez was officially signed on November 13. Gonzalez spent last season in the Rangers’ organization after playing for Jed Hoyer in San Diego during the 2011 campaign. Gonzalez can play all four infield positions and is much better in the field than at the plate. Gonzalez hit .241/.241/.315/.556 in 24 games with Texas last year and managed a .314/.327/.471/.798 slash line for Triple-A Round Rock. In 14 games, Gonzalez hit a pair of doubles and two home runs.

Alberto Gonzalez figures to compete with Edwin Maysonet for a job on the Cubs’ bench during Spring Training. If nothing else, Gonzalez should help the defensively challenged Iowa Cubs next year.

Alberto Gonzalez’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Johermyn Chavez
The 23-year old (January 26, 1989) infielder officially signed with the Cubs on November 13. Johermyn Chavez has spent the last two seasons in the Mariners’ organization after being acquired by Seattle in the Brandon Morrow-Brandon League trade in December of 2009. Chavez put together a .242/.345/.423/.768 slash line over two stops in the Mariners’ organization last season. Chavez spent a majority of the year with Double-A Jackson in the Southern League and hit .232/.339/.386/.725 with 12 doubles and eight home runs in 75 games.

Johermyn Chavez has not advanced beyond the Double-A level but has played all three outfield spots during his minor league career.

Johermyn Chavez’s Page on Baseball-Reference

J.C. Boscan
J.C. Boscan has played in only 11 big league games stretched out over three seasons and has spent a majority of his 14-year minor league career in the Braves system. Atlanta signed the 32-year old catcher (December 26, 1979) in 1996. Boscan signed as a free-agent with the Brewers in 2006 and played in just 45 games at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Boscan spent the 2007 season in the Reds organization before re-signing with the Braves in 2008.

Boscan has played in only 131 games over the last two seasons with Triple-A Gwinnett and managed a .189/.264/.284/.548 line with 12 doubles and three home runs in 70 games (250 plate appearances) last year.

J.C. Boscan will play next season at the age of 33 and figures to begin the season behind Welington Castillo, Dioner Navarro and Steve Clevenger on the Cubs’ depth chart.

J.C. Boscan’s Page on Baseball-Reference

News, Notes and Rumors
There are conflicting reports on how much the two-year contract Bryan LaHair signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks is actually worth. When the news surfaced Wednesday night that LaHair was in agreement on a two-year deal, reports indicated LaHair would be paid $4 million over the length of the contract. Reports then surfaced on Thursday that LaHair will receive a little more and agreed to a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Japanese team. The Cubs will receive $950,000 from the SoftBank Hawks for LaHair’s rights.

Reed Johnson is drawing interest from the Braves and a number of other clubs according to a report from Ken Rosenthal. Johnson has not been connected to the Cubs this off-season, so a third term for Johnson on the North Side appears to be unlikely at this point.

Several former Cubs and former Cub farmhands signed minor league contracts last week: Jeff Stevens (Reds), Nate Spears (Indians), Frankie De La Cruz (Brewers), Blake Lalli (Brewers), Scott Rice (Mets), Felix Pie (Pirates) and Alex Hinshaw (Blue Jays).

Jeff Keppinger has been mentioned as a possibility for the Cubs this off-season. Rumors have suggested that Keppinger would fit the short-term solution at third base the Cubs are looking for, plus if he was able to put together a good four months, the Cubs could flip him at the deadline for prospects. Keppinger is also on the Diamondbacks radar according to Baseball Prospectus.

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