The Chicago Cubs and right-handed pitcher Carlos Villanueva have agreed to terms on a two-year contract. To make room for Villanueva on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Lendy Castillo has been designated for assignment.
Villanueva, 29, joins the Cubs after pitching the last seven seasons with Milwaukee (2006-10) and Toronto (2011-12). The versatile Villanueva has made 56 starts and 245 relief appearances during his major league career, going 33-35 with six saves and a 4.26 ERA (311 ER/657.1 IP) in 301 big league outings. In his most recent two seasons with the Blue Jays, Villanueva made 29 starts and 42 relief appearances.
Last season, he carried a 7-4 record and a 3.10 ERA (34 ER/98.2 IP) in 33 appearances (11 starts) through the end of August before struggling during the season’s final month with a 0-3 record and an 8.10 ERA (24 ER/26.2 IP) in five September starts. Overall in 2012, Villanueva went 7-7 with a 4.16 ERA (58 ER/125.1 IP) in 38 appearances (16 starts).
Villanueva made his major league debut with Milwaukee in 2006 and became a big league mainstay by the 2008 season. He set a career high with 64 appearances in 2009 and averaged a career-best 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 2010, his lone season pitching exclusively in relief. Villanueva set career highs last season with 125.1 innings pitched, 16 starts and 122 strikeouts.
In his career, Villanueva has limited opponents to a .248 batting average and a .315 on-base percentage. He has averaged 7.8 strikeouts and 3.1 walks per nine innings.
A native of Santiago, Dominican Republic, Villanueva originally signed with San Francisco as a non-drafted free agent in 2002. He was traded to Milwaukee just days prior to the 2004 season and was traded to Toronto during the 2010-11 offseason.
Castillo went 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA (14 ER/16.0 IP) in 13 relief outings for the Cubs last season.
(Photo by David Durochik)
The Cubs made right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson the first big free agent signing of the nascent Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer era yesterday. Jackson, who has played for eight different teams in his 10-year big league career, said he was happy for the stability the four-year, $52 million contract will provide and optimistic about the Cubs’ future.
“It’s an organization that has upside,” Jackson said. “It’s just a matter of getting the right pieces in order and having everyone play on the same page. It’s definitely a team that can go out and win a lot of ballgames, regardless of what anyone says.”
After narrowly missing out on free agent starter Anibal Sanchez last month, the Cubs rang in the New Year by coming to terms with right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson. The 29-year-old signed a reported four-year, $52 million deal—the largest given out by Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer during their brief tenure—and should be a key piece of the Cubs’ rotation in 2013 and beyond.
“He fits very well on the team in 2013, but we think he fits even better with the team going forward as a core member of what we’re trying to build here in Chicago,” Hoyer said. “His talent, his age, and everything we’ve learned about him as a teammate were all part of the reasons we decided to add him to the roster.”
Jackson has called more than a few places home since his 2003 debut with the Dodgers. The 6-foot-3 power arm, who has averaged 94.1 MPH on his fastball throughout his career, was selected out of high school in the sixth round of the 2001 draft by Los Angeles, and was the youngest player in the National League in 2003 and 2004. He was traded to the Rays in 2006 and got his first regular work in a major league rotation in 2007. After the Rays’ 2008 playoff run, Jackson’s travels really started.
Since 2009, the starter has had stints with the Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals and Nationals. The Cubs will be the seventh team Jackson has played for since 2008 (excluding his trade from the White Sox to the Blue Jays, who sent him to the Cardinals later that day, on July 27, 2011).
“It definitely feels great [to have signed a long-term deal],” Jackson said. “I think the most assuring part is that you have a chance to relax and know that you’re going to be somewhere for a while. You don’t have to feel like you have to prove yourself every year. I think it’s definitely going to help for me to just go out and have fun and not have to worry about anything else.”
Jackson spent last season with the NL East champion Nationals, where he posted a 10-11 record and a 4.03 ERA. The Nationals did not tender Jackson a qualifying offer, so he will not cost the Cubs a draft pick.
In 10 major league seasons, Jackson owns a 70-71 record with a 4.40 ERA and 969 strikeouts in 1,268.2 innings (6.9 K/9). He has reached 31 or more starts in each of his last six seasons, has recorded double-digit wins in each of the last five seasons and has exceeded 180.0 innings pitched in each of the last five seasons. The 2009 All-Star with Detroit also pitched a no-hitter for the Diamondbacks in 2010 and won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011.
“Edwin is 29 years old, and he’s already had six consecutive seasons of making 30-plus starts,” Hoyer said. “He’s proven his durability, he’s proven his talents, but he’s also still at an age where we think he can get even better.”
The Cubs have been extremely aggressive in remaking their rotation this offseason. Prior to the Jackson signing, they had already signed starters Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva to complement Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood.
“As a pitching staff, when you get pitchers that are competitive and pitchers that want to go out and win, it definitely helps,” said Jackson, who pitched alongside Garza in Tampa Bay. “Everyone is pulling on each other’s coattails, and it’s a positive competitiveness.”
Jackson has a 1-2 career record at Wrigley Field with a 7.94 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 17 innings.
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty)
The Cubs improved their outfield depth Friday by agreeing to terms with outfielder Nate Schierholtz on a one-year contract.
Schierholtz, 28, is a career .270 hitter (344-for-1,275) with 75 doubles, 15 triples, 24 home runs and 123 RBI in 540 major league games with the San Francisco Giants (2007-12) and Philadelphia Phillies (2012). The left-handed batter and right-handed thrower has spent the majority of his big league career playing right field (420 games, 261 starts), where he owns a .989 fielding percentage (seven errors in 616 total chances), but he has also seen limited time in center field and left field. In 2010, he ranked fifth in outfield assists and fielding percentage among right fielders.
Schierholtz had spent his entire professional career in the Giants organization before being dealt to the Phillies as part of a four-player trade on July 31, 2012. He combined to hit .257 (62-for-241) with eight doubles, five triples and six home runs in 114 games between the two clubs last season.
Originally selected by San Francisco in the second round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Schierholtz made his major league debut with the Giants in 2007 at the age of 23 and was a big league mainstay by 2009. He was a member of San Francisco’s 2010 World Championship team and followed that season by hitting .278 (93-for-335) and setting career highs with 22 doubles, nine home runs and 41 RBI in 2011.
Other Cubs Notes:
Left-handed pitcher Jeff Beliveau was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers, and right-handed pitcher Sandy Rosario was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants. Left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Single-A Kane County.
Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 39 players.
(Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
The Cubs officially agreed to terms with Korean pitcher Chang-Yong Lim on Monday. The 36-year-old signed a minor league deal after spending five seasons in Japan and 12 years in Korea.
Lim joined the Yakult Swallows of Japan in 2008 and quickly became one of the league’s more dominating closers. The right-hander recorded 28 or more saves in four straight seasons from 2008-11 and compiled a 2.09 ERA in the NPB. “Mister Zero,” as he is nicknamed, missed most of 2012 with Tommy John surgery—the second such procedure of his career—and is not expected to pitch for the Cubs until 2014.
The sidearmer helped Korea win a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics and a silver medal in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
The Chicago Cubs and infielder Ian Stewart have agreed to terms on a one-year contract. To make room for Stewart on the 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Jeff Beliveau was designated for assignment.
Stewart, 27, returns to the Cubs after being limited to just 55 games last season after having season-ending surgery on his left wrist July 10. He hit .201 (36-for-179) with five doubles, two triples, five home runs and 17 RBI before being placed on the disabled list June 14 and having surgery nearly a month later. Stewart was originally acquired by the Cubs from the Colorado Rockies as part of a four-player trade on Dec. 8, 2011.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Stewart is a career .232 hitter (329-for-1,421) with 66 doubles, 59 home runs and 204 RBI in 487 major league games with the Rockies (2007-11) and Cubs (2012). He has averaged 22 doubles, 20 home runs and 68 RBI per 162 games during his major league career.
Stewart was originally selected by Colorado in the first round (10th overall) of the 2003 Draft out of high school and reached the big leagues at the age of 22 in 2007. He completed his first full season in the majors in 2009, when he hit 25 homers and recorded 70 RBI in 147 games for Colorado.
Beliveau, 25, made his major league debut last season and went 1-0 with a 4.58 ERA (9 ER/17.2 IP) in 22 relief appearances for the Cubs.
The Cubs introduced the newest member of their relief corps, Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa, on Friday at Wrigley Field. Fujikawa is the first Japanese player to suit up for the Cubs since Kosuke Fukudome, who roamed the Wrigley outfield from 2008-11. In 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League, the 32-year-old right-hander went 42-25 with 220 saves and a 1.77 ERA in 692.1 innings pitched. Fujikawa will likely pitch the seventh or eighth inning for the Cubs, as GM Jed Hoyer said Carlos Marmol remains the team’s closer.
The Cubs organization today announced their minor league managers and coaches for the 2013 season. On the teams making up the top six minor league levels, there will be four new managers, two new pitching coaches and six new hitting coaches. Below is the 2013 roster of minor league managers and coaches:
Iowa: After serving as Chicago’s catching coordinator for the last three seasons, Marty Pevey will take the helm at Triple-A Iowa. He was also the manager of Single-A Peoria in 2009, where he was named Midwest League co-Manager of the Year. Mike Mason will return for his sixth season as Iowa’s pitching coach, while Brian Harper will make the jump to hitting coach after spending last season as the manager in Daytona.
Tennessee: Buddy Bailey returns as Tennessee’s manager after finishing four games above .500 in 2012. While managing the Daytona Cubs in 2011, he won the Florida State League Championship. Jeff Fassero also returns as Tennessee’s pitching coach, and hitting coach Desi Wilson will get a promotion after serving in the same position at Daytona last season.
Daytona: Dave Keller, in his 10th season with the organization, will be Daytona’s manager this year after acting as Iowa’s hitting coach in 2012. Keller was an assistant on the major league staff in 2011. Pitching coach Storm Davis comes over from the Rangers’ organization, where he served as a Single-A pitching coach the previous two years. Hitting coach Mariano Duncan moves over from Tennessee, where he served the same role the previous two seasons.
Kane County: Manager Mark Johnson gets a bump from Short-A Boise to Single-A after back-to-back playoff runs with the Hawks. Pitching coach Ron Villone is another holdover from last year’s Peoria side. Tom Beyers will take over as hitting coach after 13 seasons with the organization.
Boise: Gary Van Tol will step in as the Hawks manager after spending the previous five seasons as a volunteer with the squad. He also served as an associate scout for the organization. David Rosario returns for a third straight season as pitching coach, marking his ninth year in the Cubs organization. Former Cub Bill Buckner will continue his role as Boise’s hitting coach after joining the squad in 2012.
Mesa: Bobby Mitchell will be back for his second managerial stint with Rookie League Mesa after spending the previous nine years with the Angels. Anderson Tavarez earned a promotion to pitching coach after six seasons with the Dominican Cubs, and Rick Tronerud will resume his duties as rehab pitching coach. Ricardo Medina will share the team’s hitting coach role with former first-round draft pick Jimmy Gonzalez.
The Chicago Cubs introduced Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa Friday morning after signing the righty to a two-year deal worth $9.5 million with vesting options for a third year.
“It’s always nice when a player really wants to be a Cub,” said Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer. “I think he made that very clear, and we’re very happy to have him. He had a wonderful career in Hanshin for the Tigers, and we hope he has a long and wonderful career here with the Cubs.”
Fujikawa, 32, joins the Cubs after pitching all or part of 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Central League. The right-hander went 42-25 with 220 saves and a 1.77 ERA (136 ER/692.1 IP) covering 562 appearances—all but 14 as a relief pitcher. Fujikawa twice led the league in holds (46 in 2005 and 30 in 2006), twice led the league in saves (46 in 2007 and 41 in 2011), and posted a 1.32 ERA or lower in four of the last five seasons. He won the Central League Most Valuable Set-up Pitcher Award in 2005.
“I know that the team is very young,” said Fujikawa through a translator. “I am a veteran. I will try to led the young players, as well, and try to compete to win for the Cubs. I know what they’ve done last year, and hopefully we can do better next year. I’d like to be part of the building process for the Cubs future.”
Fujikawa made his professional debut in 2000 and saw his first run of success in 2005, when he posted a 1.36 ERA in a league-leading 80 appearances. Two seasons later, the Tigers moved him to the full-time closer role. Last year, Fujikawa went 2-2 with a 1.32 ERA and 24 saves in 47.2 innings.
He was a member of Team Japan in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics and also pitched in the 2008 Olympics, but according to Hoyer, Fujikawa will not pitch in the WBC this year.
The Japanese star features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and complements it with a forkball and a slow curve.
“He’s been known in Japan as a guy who can really pitch with his fastball, which is really important. He’s not a guy who tricks you. He actually comes right after guys,” Hoyer said. “Guys who rely too much on trickery can often be guys the league figures out quickly. And our hope certainly is that because he pitches with his fastball, he’ll be able to pitch to a game plan and be able to establish himself and have a nice run.”
Although Fujikawa ended his Japanese career as a closer, he said he’s happy to pitch in whatever role the team asks of him. Both Hoyer and baseball president Theo Epstein stressed that Carlos Marmol will likely start the season as closer after pitching well in the second half of 2012.
“Our goal is to have the best bullpen possible, and you don’t have a good bullpen by having one good pitcher throwing the ninth inning,” Hoyer said. “[Marmol] goes into the season as the closer. Our goal is to have a seven-man-deep bullpen of good arms, and Kyuji certainly adds to that.”
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)
The Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Hector Rondon, 24, from the Indians with the second overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft Thursday morning.
Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2004, the six-foot-three, 180-pound hurler has a career record of 36-36 and a 3.88 ERA in 120 minor league games (587.0 IP).
Rondon was one of the Indians top prospects before struggling with injuries in recent years. He had Tommy John surgery in August 2010 and had a second procedure in December 2011, wiping out the majority of the last three seasons.
The Guatire, Venezuela native was named Cleveland’s minor league pitcher of the year and an Eastern League All-Star in 2009 after going 11-10 with a complete game, a 3.38 ERA (55 ER/146.1 IP), and 137 strikeouts in 27 games (25 starts) between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. That season, he ranked first in the Indians organization in strikeouts, third in wins and fourth in innings pitched. In 2008, Rondon went 11-6 with a 3.60 ERA (58 ER/145.0 IP) and 145 strikeouts in 27 starts with Single-A Kinston, and was named a Carolina League All-Star and the ninth-best prospect in the league by Baseball America.
He did pitch seven innings to wrap up the 2012 campaign, posting no record with a 1.29 ERA and nine strikeouts in four games between rookie ball and Double-A Akron. Baseball America ranked Rondon Cleveland’s No. 22 prospect prior to the 2012 season.
Rondon will have to be on the Cubs’ 25-man roster for the duration of the season, or be offered back to Cleveland.
The Cubs lost right-handed pitcher Starling Peralta in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft when he was selected in the first round (14th overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks. They also lost outfielder Michael Burgess, infielder Matt Cerda and right-handed pitcher Alvido Jimenez in the Triple-A phase of the draft.