The Cubs have signed several players to minor league contracts over the last six weeks. And among the players that have been inked to minor league deals are three rather intriguing pitchers that should be in big league camp this spring.
The front office has brought in veteran relievers Brandon Gomes and Jean Machi and swingman Stephen Fife to create options in the bullpen.
The Cubs have not announced or posted all of the players the front office has signed this off-season to minor league contracts yet. The team has posted signing RHP Drew Rucinski, LHP Jeffry Antigua, LHP Luis Parra, LHP Jack Leathersich, RHP Brandon Gomes, RHP Jean Machi and OF Juan Perez on the official transactions page.
Drew Rucinski, RHP
Drew Rucinski, 26, has pitched in seven games in the majors with one start over the last two seasons. Rucinski is 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA and 1.88 WHIP. In four games, one start, in 2015, Rucinski was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA and 2.28 WHIP. Rucinski allowed six runs on 10 hits with six walks and four strikeouts in seven innings.
Rucinski made 22 starts for Triple-A Salt Lake (Pacific Coast League) last season and was 5-7 with a 5.69 ERA and 1.64 WHIP. In 112 1/3 innings, Rucinski gave up 73 runs, 71 earned, on 141 hits with 44 walks and 87 strikeouts.
Rucinski turns 27 in three days.
Jeffry Antigua, LHP
Jeffry Antigua, 25, re-signed with the Cubs on a minor league contract. Antigua has been in the Cubs’ organization since he signed as a 17-year old in 2007. The southpaw spent time with Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2015. Antigua was a combined 6-6 in 30 games, 22 starts, with a 3.85 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Antigua allowed 62 runs, 57 earned, on 127 hits with 46 walks and 77 strikeouts in 133 1/3 innings.
In 10 games, six starts, for Triple-A Iowa, Antigua was 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA and 0.99 WHIP (17 runs, 12 earned, on 28 hits with 13 walks and 19 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings).
Luis Parra, LHP
Luis Parra, 24, has been in the Rangers’ organization since 2009. Parra has not pitched above the Double-A Level and saw time last season at four levels (Short-Season, Low-A, High-A and Double-A) of Texas’ system.
Parra was a combined 9-8 in 28 games, 12 starts, with a 6.02 ERA and 1.85 WHIP. Parra allowed 68 runs, 56 earned, on 106 hits with 49 walks and 78 strikeouts in 83 2/3 innings. Parra made one appearance for Double-A Frisco and surrendered six runs, all earned, on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts in two innings.
Jack Leathersich, LHP
The Cubs re-signed LHP Jack Leathersich to a minor league contract and he is scheduled to report to Mesa next month to continue his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
The Cubs claimed Leathersich off waivers from the Mets on Nov. 19. The Cubs did not tender the lefty a contract for next season and he elected for free agency on Dec. 2. The 25-year old southpaw had Tommy John surgery at the end of July and will begin next season on the disabled list.
Leathersich is targeting August to be ready to help the Cubs out of the bullpen for the stretch run of the season.
Leathersich was 0-1 in 17 games out of the Mets’ pen last season with a 2.31 ERA, 1.63 WHIP and 2.79 FIP (three runs, 12 hits, seven walks, 14 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings). During his time with Triple-A Las Vegas this past season, Leathersich appeared in 13 games and allowed eight runs on 10 hits with seven walks and 22 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.
Over five seasons in the Mets’ system, Leathersich posted a 9-9 record with a 3.55 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 160 games, all in relief.
Brandon Gomes, RHP
Brandon Gomes, 31, has spent all five years of his big league career with the Tampa Bay Rays. Gomes appeared in 63 games for the Rays last season and posted a 2-6 record with a save, a 4.27 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Gomes allowed 28 runs, all earned, on 55 hits with 15 walks and 44 strikeouts. Gomes pitched in a career-high 63 games last season.
Brandon Gomes was 2-2 in 29 relief appearances with a 3.71 ERA and 1.14 WHIP under Joe Maddon in 2014.
Over his five years in the majors, Gomes is 11-12 in 173 games, all in relief, with a 4.20 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Gomes has given up 84 runs, 78 earned, on 151 hits with 61 walks and 144 strikeouts in 167 innings.
Jean Machi, RHP
Jean Machi, 33, had a very good run in San Francisco before struggling last year and eventually getting claimed off waivers by the Red Sox. Machi helped the Giants win The Series in 2014 when he was 7-1 in 71 appearances with a 2.58 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.
Last year was a struggle for Machi. After starting the season with the Giants and posting a 1-0 record in 33 games with a 5.14 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, Machi was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox on July 28. Machi appeared in 26 games for Boston and was 1-0 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.
In 59 games with the Giants and Sox a year ago, Machi was 2-0 with a 5.12 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Machi gave up 35 runs, 33 earned, on 59 hits with 22 walks and 42 strikeouts in 58 innings.
Stephen Fife, RHP
Stephen Fife did not pitch last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The front office is very familiar with Fife. The Red Sox selected the 29-year old right-hander in the third round of the 2008 draft.
Stephen Fife was 4-4 in 12 games, 10 starts, with a 3.86 ERA and 1.52 WHIP for the Dodgers in 2013. Fife pitched in only one game in 2014 at the Major League level and made 12 appearances in the minors before Tommy John surgery.
Over three seasons with the Dodgers (2012-14), Stephen Fife was 4-6 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. Fife has allowed 41 runs, 37 earned, on 101 hits with 33 walks and 70 strikeouts in 91 innings (18 games, 16 starts).
Luis Cruz, LHP
Luis Cruz, 25, was selected in the ninth round of the 2008 draft by the Astros and has spent his entire pro career in Houston’s system. Cruz was released in November to make room on the Astros’ 40-man roster.
Cruz has not pitched above the Triple-A level and has appeared in 174 games in the minors, 136 of those were as a starter. Cruz was 7-5 last season for Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast League) in 28 games, 19 starts, with a 4.27 ERA and 1.47 WHIP (60 runs, 55 earned, 119 hits, 52 walks, 93 strikeouts in 116 innings).
Scott Barnes, LHP
Scott Barnes, 28, last pitched in the majors in 2013 with the Indians. Barnes appeared in six games, all in relief, and was 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Barnes made 22 appearances over two seasons (2012, 2013) out of the Indians pen. Barnes is 0-1 with a 5.20 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in his big league career.
Barnes was in the Blue Jays system this past season. Barnes made 30 appearances and six starts for Double-A New Hampshire and pitched in three games, all in relief, for Triple-A Buffalo. Barnes was a combined 3-6 with a 5.20 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. Barnes allowed 37 runs, 36 earned, on 73 hits with 15 walks and 52 strikeouts.
Fernando Cruz, RHP
Fernando Cruz re-signed with the Cubs on a minor league deal. Cruz spent his first season with the Cubs at three levels in the system a year ago. Cruz saw time at High-A Myrtle Beach, Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
In 32 games, five starts, Cruz was 3-4 with three saves, a 5.64 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. Cruz allowed 50 runs, 43 earned, on 72 hits with 34 walks and 58 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings.
Kelly Dugan, OF
Kelly Dugan, 25, plays outfield and first base. The Phillies selected the lefty hitting Dugan in the second round of the 2009 draft. Dugan made it to the Triple-A level for the first time last season and has not played in the majors.
Dugan batted .221/.295/.298 in 36 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley with four doubles and two home runs. Dugan played 83 games over three levels of the Phillies’ system and hit .274/.349/.358 with 15 doubles, a triple and three home runs for a .707 OPS.
Juan Perez, OF
Juan Perez, 29, has been in the Giants organization since he was selected in the 13th round of the 2008 draft. Perez split time last year between Triple-A Sacramento, High-A San Jose and the big leagues.
Perez played in 28 games in the majors and hit .282/.300/.359 with three doubles in 39 at bats. In 83 games at Triple-A Sacramento, Perez batted .265/.306/.424 with 24 doubles, three triples and seven home runs for a .730 OPS.
Perez has played all three spots in the big leagues. Over three seasons with the Giants, Perez has a .224/.267/.316 line with 15 doubles, two home runs and a .583 OPS.
The following players are expected in Major League Spring Training as non-roster invitees: Brandon Gomes, Juan Perez, Jean Machi, Scott Barnes, Luis Cruz, Stephen Fife and Jack Leathersich.
The Cubs should sign a couple of veteran catchers to minor league contracts. A veteran utility infielder or two will probably be inked to minor league deals with non-roster invites to complete for the role Jonathan Herrera filled for a majority of the 2015 season.
Under the current regime, the Cubs have announced the complete list of non-roster invitees and minor league signings in late January.
Several players that were in the Cubs’ organization last season have signed with new clubs: OF/1B Mike Baxter (Mariners), OF Quintin Berry (Angels), INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio (Braves), LHP Drake Britton (Tigers), LHP Ryan Buchter (Padres), RHP Blake Parker (Mariners), RHP Felipe Paulino (Indians), RHP Carlos Pimentel (Padres), LHP James Russell (Phillies) and RHP Brian Schlitter (Rockies).