Outside of the signing of Emilio Bonifacio to a minor league contract, the biggest news Saturday to come out of Mesa was Arodys Vizcaino completing a bullpen session.
Arodys Vizcaino says he is healthy after being on the shelf recovering from Tommy John surgery the past two years. Vizcaino has a big arm and great stuff with a devastating slider when he’s been healthy. Jason McLeod recently said the team plans on using Vizcaino solely has a reliever at this point. The Cubs are trying to keep him healthy and feel his stuff translate well to the backend of a bullpen.
Vizcaino has plans of breaking camp on the big league roster. The 23-year old right hander completed his first official bullpen of spring Saturday and reportedly it went well. If Vizcaino is anywhere close to the pitcher he was in Atlanta, the backend of the Cubs’ pen will be much improved this season.
And while Vizcaino is focused on being with the Cubs in Pittsburgh on Opening Day, Chris Bosio would not commit to him being with the Chicago Cubs or the Iowa Cubs in April.
Carlos Villanueva, Edwin Jackson, Chris Rusin, Jason Hammel, Dallas Beeler, Alberto Cabrera, Jonathan Sanchez, Tommy Hottovy, Eric Jokisch, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Jose Veras, Carlos Pimentel and Armando Rivero were the other 14 pitchers in camp that threw bullpen sessions on Saturday.
The Cubs agreed to terms with infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio on a minor league contract. The deal was announced Saturday and he will compete for a job on the 25-man roster in camp. According to multiple reports, Bonifacio will be given every opportunity to make the team and if he does the Cubs will pay him $2.5 million this season. The deal includes an incentives package worth $425,000. Bonifacio received $574,000 from the Royals for terminating the $3.5 million contract they agreed to in January to avoid arbitration.
Rick Renteria likes the versatility Bonifacio could provide his team. Bonifacio will see playing time in the infield and outfield during Cactus League games.
Neither Theo Epstein nor Edwin Jackson is happy with the way Jackson pitched last season. During the convention, Jackson said he is focused on putting last season behind him. Jackson reiterated he is committed to putting last season behind him on Friday. Jackson said he “was embarrassed” with the way he pitched and admitted he’s heard all of the criticism.
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Jackson has not lost any confidence and does not feel like his has to prove anything to his critics.
News, Notes and Rumors
Tsuyoshi Wada cleared up his Visa issues and reported to Mesa. Wada completed his first bullpen session, reportedly around 35 pitches.
The Cubs will monitor Welington Castillo closely this spring with him coming off right knee surgery that ended his 2013 season early.
The Mariners are one of the teams that remain interested in acquiring Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs. Lloyd McClendon had a rough first week as Seattle’s manager. The team lost Hisashi Iwakuma for the start of the season and Taijuan Walker reported to camp with a sore shoulder. The Mariners will limit Walker early in Spring Training. Ken Rosenthal reported Friday that Seattle is “trying to add another starter through trade or free agency.” Rosenthal added the Mariners “have touched base on Ervin Santana and presumably Ubaldo Jimenez as well.” The M’s are “surveying the market and seeking the best opportunity.”
News and Notes from Around the League
The Orioles have still not announced the deal, but according to multiple reports Suk-Min Yoon has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Orioles. Yoon has taken a physical and has a locker at the Orioles’ Spring Training facility. Yoon is trying to stay in the states while he waits for his signing with the Orioles to become official. The guaranteed money on Yoon’s contract is three years and $5.75 million. There is an incentives package based on games started that could run the total value of the contract to $13 million. Yoon received a $675,000 signing bonus and will be paid $750,000 in 2014, $1.75 million in 2015 and $2.4 million in 2016. The Cubs were interested in signing Yoon this winter. And while Baltimore is looking at him as a starter, Buster Olney reported several teams “believe he’s more of a back-end of the rotation or organizational-depth pitcher” while other teams were unsure if he would fit best as a reliever on their roster.
The Cubs were connected to Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz last off-season and he held a showcase at the Padres facility in Peoria, Ariz. last Thursday. Around 50 scouts attended his workout according to Jesse Sanchez. Diaz took batting practice against former Cubs’ reliever Michael Wuertz and took infield at both shortstop and second base. Reports have not surfaced if the Cubs had scouts on hand to watch him Thursday. The San Diego Union Tribune reported over a dozen teams attended his workout Thursday. Diaz is receiving a lot of interest and could be looking a contract in the $20-$30 million range. Chris Cotillo reported Diaz “will start fielding offers on Feb. 18 with hopes of deciding on a team by Feb. 21 or Feb. 22.” The Yankees were among the teams on hand to watch Diaz. Jon Paul Morosi reported the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants also attended Diaz’s workout. Jesse Sanchez reported scouts are “still curious how Diaz will fare against tough breaking balls.”
Odrisamer Despaigne participated in the same showcase with Aledmys Diaz last Thursday at the Padres and Mariners Spring Training facility in Peoria. Despaigne is a free agent and is also drawing a lot of attention. The Cuban RHP touched 94 mph with his fastball according to Jesse Sanchez. Like Diaz, the Cubs have not been connected to Despaigne yet. According to a report from Jesse Sanchez, Despaigne had another showcase Saturday in Port Charlotte, Florida. Despaigne is hoping to sign soon so he can be in camp by March.