Cubs sign Brian Bogusevic and three others to minor league deals

Cubs sign Brian Bogusevic and three others to minor league deals
Brian Bogusevic

Around the same time that all this roster maneuvering is happening, there are teams scrambling to pick up outrighted players to minor league deals.  The Cubs signed 4 such players with the best being Brian Bogusevic.  The others were IF Alberto Gonzalez, C J.C. Boscan, and RF Johermyn Chavez.

Brian Bogusevic has the best chance of making the team out of spring training.  He loosely fits the profile of what the Cubs said they were looking for in an extra outfielder:

  • He can play CF but is versatile enough to play other positions.  He also plays LF, RF and 1B.
  • He is a plus defender.  He's an average runner but has good instincts and a plus arm.
  • He hits left-handed.

He also has a little bit of pop (.122 career ISO, 7 HRs last year) and plate discipline (10.1% walk rate last season).   Overall Bogusevic hit .203/.297/.299, so it's nothing to get excited about, but it was partially held down by an extremely low .257 BABIP, especially for someone of his good speed (15 SBs last year).

Bill James projects him to hit .247/.329/.369 next season with 8 HRs and 17 SBs.  Ideally he's more of a 4th OF'er but may get a chance to win the CF job and platoon with Dave Sappelt if the Cubs don't pick up another OF'er.  Ideally, I'd like to see the Cubs sign or trade for a true starting caliber CF'er with Bogusevic and Sappelt forming a versatile righty/lefty tandem off the bench.

I like this signing.  I think Bogusevic needs to change his approach a bit.  If anything, he is too patient and often gets himself to two strikes, then is forced to hit for contact.  I like the discipline, but I think Bogusevic has the size and strength to hit for more extra base power and a better average if he pounces on some hittable pitches earlier in the count.

Alberto Gonzalez also has a shot at making the team as a utility infielder.  He is a plus defender at both SS and 3B but he's a negative at the plate with a career line of .242/.279/.317.  He'll be in the mix with another minor league free agent signing, Edwin Maysonet.

J.C. Boscan had a cup of coffee with the Atlanta Braves last year and is a solid defender but has a well-below average bat.  He's likely to be the Cubs 4th catcher behind Welington Castillo, Dioner Navarro, and Steve Clevenger.

Johermyn Chavez had a huge year in 2010 for the Seattle Mariners advanced A affiliate, hitting .315/.387/.577 with 32 HRs.  He's a good athlete with and excellent throwing arm, profiling as a RF.  He does show some discipline at times, but he's also prone to losing strike zone recognition and falling into slumps.  In short, he's the kind of talented but streaky player that gives you some hope, but also a whole lot of frustration. He needs to be more consistent overall but there's some potential there and it's certainly worth a flyer.  He'll most likely provide organizational depth as the RF for AAA Iowa for now.

If there is a common thread through all these signings, it's that all players are potentially above average defenders.  That's a departure from last year's bench bats Joe Mather and Bryan LaHair.

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  • Sign as many under 30 players as we can

  • To me the signings show a lean toward athleticism, defense.

  • This might be the Cubs new philosophy in building their teams
    of the future. Pure power hitters are getting hard to find.

  • i like the chavez signing a lot, most of these types of signings never amount to much, but chavez is a "if the light bulbs ever turns on" type of guy, so i kind of like that about them. im also pretty happy with the bogusevic signing as well

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    about him*

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    That's a nice sleeper signing. The kind of guy who could break out and then people will say, where the heck did that guy come from?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Or, more likely, we'll never hear from him again :) But it's a flyer that costs nothing and you never know.

  • Chavez could prove to be a really good signing. Dude's only gonna be 24, and has had success in the past in the minors. Formerly a top prospect in the Mariners system, I'm liking it.

    For now, he's just an organizational guy. But if he can find the same levels of success he had a couple years ago, he might wind up being the bridge between DeJesus and Soler in right field.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    I think it's a nice underrated signing in that there is virtually no risk but there is some upside.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not implying he'll be a superstar by any means, but he could realistically hold the fort at or near the MLB minimum for a few years. I don't think a .260 or so average with about a .315 OBP, and maybe 15-20 homers is too unreasonable, should he start putting all the pieces together, though I wouldn't even contemplate him as an MLB starter until 2014.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Would love to see that happen, especially if he plays the good defense scouts say he does.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Their 7th top prospect in 2011 - BA prospect handbook

    I like these signings of young prospects with some potential

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Yep. Wasn't too long ago that he was very well-regarded. Would be a steal if he could recapture some of that promise.

  • I also like the fact that were getting former top 5-20 prospects of other teams. Lets hope some pan out.

  • Off topic: I was watching Baseball Tonight on MLB tv today and they tore Starlin Castro up, saying that according to Inside Edge scouting service, Castro was way down in the 15th percentile of mlb players that could be expected to handle a routine play.

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    In reply to SFToby:

    Castro seemed a lot better to the naked eye in the second half. I wonder what his fielding splits are for the year if they back that up.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I agree. I think a lot of those errors on routine plays were early in the year when he was trying to work on his footwork on throws and then late in the year when he was probably a bit fatigued, having only taken a few innings off all year. That stat doesn't tell the whole story. Obviously guys who didn't watch him play all year.

  • I have never been fully sold on Castro myself. I do admit he has some great tools but there is something in my gut telling me no on him. I do like some of the young MIF the Cubs have through. I personally think they could get a great SP prospect for him though.

  • i think it's real easy to get caught up in the things that Castro doesn't do. But he already is an above average SS overall who is among the best in the NL -- and he hasn't even scratched the surface.

    If they trade him for an SP prospect, they're basically trading an asset at a premium position for a roll of the dice. Texas and Atlanta have refused to part with their young SS. I think the Cubs are equally aware of the value of having that kind of long term everyday value at a premium position. To trade that for something as risky as a pitching prospect is asking for disaster.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John,
    I am not saying there is anything wrong with Castro. I just have a gut feeling he is replaceable. Is he going to be a very good player yes but I believe if they can get over value for him. I just think Watkins can cover SS until one of the younger players are ready. But the biggest issue is pitching and that is what wins games. The cubs have offense coming in their system but the no real pitching. If they can get 4 player 1 being a potential #1, and 2 front end pitchers and a 3B prospect that be a great return.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I mentioned that Watkins at SS idea (someone else asked me about it once a while back) to a respected talent evaluator and he just scoffed. Had another guy tell me that the idea of trading Castro is "insane" -- and this was a guy who was critical early in the year about his footwork. A third guy said if they do ever seriously put him on the market (something he said he wouldn't do), he'll be first in line. These are guys who would gladly give up prospects for a 22 year old player who is already above average in the majors at a premium position without even having come near his potential yet.

    And Hernandez and Alcantara are nowhere nearly as highly regarded as Castro was and still is. Not only is it a risk because these guys in A ball have a good chance of not making it at all, but their upside isn't nearly as high -- even now, Castro has more room to improve.

    I think Cubs fans underestimate what a special talent he is. They don't come around often and I don't understand that why, as soon as they do, we don't appreciate them and want to send them packing for more prospects.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would not be surprised if Castro is an all-star for years to come but if the Cubs were offered Taijuan Walker, Danny Huzlten, James Paxton and another B prospect they wouldn't at least consider it. I honesty don't think Castro will be the piece that will make or break this team.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Fair enough, Kevin. Nobody is untradeable. I think sometimes that his talent is already underappreciated, thankfully not by the Cubs front office, though. Yes, he has some flaws, but unless some team comes in and makes the Cubs a ridiculous offer, then I see no reason to trade him right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I do believe I said over value in my first comment. I don't think anything I have said was against Castro's talent, I believe he is going to a great player but I also don't think one player makes a team.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    True, but you need to put together a young core at the MLB level and then build some continuity if you want the team to improve. As a 22 year old playing arguably the most important position on the field (and doing it well for 3 years), Castro is an important piece in both those respects.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My biggest concern is pitching. Teams can make it to the WS without an all-star SS but not without Pitching. If they could get a #1 and others it would be something they have to at least consider it, because a true #1 is harder to find then a SS.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    And which of those WS teams traded their young, established, star SS to get pitching prospects that became #1 starters?

    I can't think of one. Boston was the closest but Nomar was already 30, not really a good SS defensively anymore and in fact, was pretty much a SS in name only at that point. And he was already past his peak years. And they didn't get #1 starter either. None of these team traded their Jeters or their Ripkens or their Ozzies or their Larkins or Trammels or even their Rollins and Fernandez's to get pitching prospects.

    A good team finds away to maintain their best long term assets while continuing to acquire other long term assets by other means...the draft, by trading short term assets, through free agency...or by trading prospects, which is much less risky than trading player who has already proven he can play at a high level at the MLB level.

    There are just much better,efficient ways to get top starters.

    You're assuming that any one of those guys you talked about in the Seattle trade will be a #1 starter. Only Walker has a realistic chance...and what if he doesn't? The odds are against that happening for various reasons. You'll have then squandered one of your prize assets to get maybe a mid rotation starter or two, something you could have gotten at much less cost.

    You just don't see it being done around baseball.

  • LaHair got $4.7 million to play in Japan for two years....

    And the Cubs got $950 K for the deal.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Nice. Congrats to him. Hope he pulls a Matt Murton and kills over there.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Agreed. Wish him all the best. One of the good guys. Felzzy should have a write up on him soon.

  • I saw Castro play a couple games at the end of august. Maybe he was tired but he made errors on routine plays and then seemed to short arm two later chances up the middle that he should have been able to get to or at least get a glove on and knock down, but didn't want to risk another e6.

    If I can see it you know his team mates, especially the pitchers, can too. That is what concerns me with castro, even if he has a high ceiling he won't attain it with his attitude. That isn't the kind of team mate you want if you are trying to put together a winner for the first time in awhile either. I don't think you can build around him for that reason either.

    I would rather trade him while his value is high or move him to third so he doesn't block Baez, who appears to have a better makeup thus far. I'd like to see it differently but I 've seen little from him to make me feel differently and more that supports this view. He can be the Nomar trade for the cubs FO. And if people are concerned about another brock deal, then they probably never saw brock play, he had a motor that wouldn't quit, no comparison at all to what Castro exhibits. Also Broglio was the "safe" side of that deal, brock was the riskier prospect at the time. So keeping Castro is really more like wanting Broglio for the cubs. Trade him now while he still has some value and upside to some people, it won't be long until more people like Inside Edge and MLB tv catch on to this i'm sorry to say.

  • In reply to eddie35:

    I couldn't disagree more. I watch a ton of games and I talk to a lot of people who evaluate talent. I'm not sure what is meant by "attitude" with Castro. By all accounts he's very humble, takes to coaching, and has a strong work ethic.

    Statistically, Castro got to more balls than most SS in the NL, in fact, he was second in all of baseball in plays made out of zone (OOZ) so if he's "short-arming" balls out of fear of making errors than I wonder what the rest of the league is doing.

    We know the front office is happy with his play because they value mental makeup more than most FOs out there -- and they rewarded him with a 6 year deal.

    I trust the professionals I talk to and advanced metrics rather than a bunch of guys on TV trying to sell their idea.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thank you John!
    There isn't a GM out there who wouldn't part with "prospects" for Castro. I agree that too many people seem to focus on what he doesn't do well while somehow forgetting what he has and is doing as a 22 year-old in MLB.
    Thank God Theo/Hoyer aren't that short-sighted! Give Castro a couple more years to learn and grow and he will no doubt be a cornerstone of the team that finally wins it all.
    The only possible way they would ever consider trading him would be if a deal included at least 2 elite young SP's with some MLB success, and that's not likely to happen.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    My feelings exactly. We have to be thankful for what we have sometimes. I think there's too much time spent picking him apart. We all want him to be better, but he's a pretty good player already and there's still so much room and time to grow.

  • Chavez's numbers just fell off a cliff after that great 2010 season. Wonder what happened there.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    That's a good question. He seems to get overly aggressive at times so maybe more advanced pitchers were able to exploit that. Hope it clicks for him. Been reading up on him, seems to have solid makeup ( I guess that's a given when it comes to guys this front office likes). Maybe a change of scenery and some new coaching will help.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Looks like he had some trouble adjusting to AA, although his second year numbers were a bit better than his first. As has been said, a new approach might turn it around for him. Or he might be one of those guys who tears it up in A ball and never figures out better pitching. Hopefully the former!

  • All of those teams with those young SS they had pitching already. If it's the fact Walker hasn't pitched high enough they should call the Rays and start talking about Moore and add others to the package. They still have some very good talent.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    But they had to build the staff sometime. At some point they built their pitching staffs without ever having to trade a young, starting SS. They all found ways to build a good staff without having to trade their most valuable asset(s) So when they did go for the ring, the SS was right there with them. In other words, the kept all their good, long term assets and still managed to build a WS rotation.

    Not only hasn't happened in the past. It's still not happening now. The Rangers aren't trading Profar or Andrus,, O's won't trade Machado (now at 3B), Braves won't trade Simmons....there's a pattern here. they're all winning teams, none are entertaining offers for their young SS and certainly not for SP prospects. And the Cubs have not been trying to trade Castro. They'll find other ways to get pitching.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree completely on Castro; shopping him would be madness. This is not what teams building a long-term plan do. They only shop young talent when they have depth, and sometimes not even then (see Rangers)

    Pitching is clearly our #1 priority, but a) we have acquired pitching as part of every veteran deal, and figure to keep doing so, and b) we have a #2 pick this, and likely a top-10 next year. We also figure to spend the entire international bonus allotment, which under the new CBA we have more money to spend after July than any other team except Houston.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    The Cubs have depth up the middle and comparing the Rangers and Cubs is laughable. The Cubs don't have the veteran talent to get the pitching needed. Sorry Garza and Barney aren't going to get it done.
    I have thought of various trade ideas for trading for the Cubs but Castro always brings the most back and what they would require. There is no doubt in my mind Castro will be a great player but I thinking moving him would speed up the rebuild at least on the pitching part of it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The examples you are giving are teams that are ready now. They also have other pieces that can bring back good returns to get them over the top if they choice. I also believe the Cubs won't be ready until 2016 to make the WS. There is also a player I would like to add in 2015 who should be a FA if no one on the system steps up. Elvis Andrus who would be only be 26 with numerous years of playoff experience.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    They weren't always ready to win, Baltimore was bad in 2011. 5th worst record in the game with a 4.89 ERA. Didn't trade Machado for pitching. Texas was under .500 with a team ERA of 5.37 ERA the year before they brought up Andrus. They didn't trade him for pitching prospects either. They both build a good pitching staff without having to trade that sort of asset. That's how you build, by building on top of premium assets, not by exchanging them for significantly higher risks.

    Give me an example of a team that needed pitching, trading a young 20s all-star SS to pick up pitching prospects who led them to a WS title. If you find even one, then I'll be surprised. And even if you find just one, think of all the other teams who were able to build a WS quality pitching staff without having to make that kind of trade.

    As for Andrus as a FA, you're telling me then that the idea is to trade a young, cost-controlled SS to pick up some pitching prospects whose odds, no matter how good they are as prospects, of becoming a #1, are small. Then you replace him with a FA like Andrus (if he even becomes available) who will cost at least twice as much and who was worth just one more win above replacement? Seems like a terribly inefficient way to add starting pitching. Why not just use that money to either sign a #1 instead or take on salary in a trade for a known young starter for guys who are still unproven prospects. That is pretty much how all of these teams made it to the top did it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The problem is that #1 really aren't hitting FA anymore. Cain and Hamels was going to be part of this FA class but got signed before the season was over. I thinking the time for getting #1 through FA is over.

  • fb_avatar

    I just don't get the trade Castro talk.

    Has anyone in recent memory traded an under-25 all star with a cost-controlled contract? Even aside from one playing a premium position? I don't follow baseball as a whole as closely as I used to, but I can't think of one.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Out of curiosity I dug around and could only find a few examples of teams trading established young starters for prospects and none of them included a young all-star. Two were terrible trades and one was a gamble that worked out well. I'm sure there are other examples out there.

    1993: Seattle trades SS Omer Vizquel (26) to Cleveland for DH Reggie Jefferson and SS Felix Fermin - Vizquel was coming off a Gold Glove, but didn't hit much at the time. Jefferson and Fermin were off the Mariners within two years.

    2003: Pittsburgh trades 3B Aramis Ramirez (25) and CF Kenny Lofton to Chicago for SS Jose Hernandez, 2B Bobby Hill and SP Mike Bruback

    Here's one worked:
    1993: Montreal trades 2B Delino DeShields (24) to Los Angeles for P Pedro Martinez - This was a gamble that paid off, as Martinez had pretty questionable control as a young middle reliever, but he sorted it out in Montreal. It's worth pointing out, however, that DeShields was traded because of his lack of hitting.

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Yeah, I don't get the idea of trading Castro either. First of all, as others have pointed out, you know what you have with Castro--a young, cost-controlled, ALL-STAR SS. Those are hard to find. Secondly, as has also been mentioned, a prospect is just that.. a prospect. As we all know from many, many, many prior experiences, even top ranked prospects can flame out and/or never reach close to their potential. Everyone wanted Turner last winter and look where the dude is now... injury prone and maybe a 4/5 type SP. (In fact, sometimes the prospect talk reminds me of that old Chinese curse, "May you get what you want.")

    One thing to remember, too, is that Castro is still really, really young. It's easy to forget it because he's been in the big leagues for a few years already, but the dude is still learning the game in some respects. Does he make bone-headed plays? Absolutely. But I'd be interested to see if he's still doing that in 4 or 5 years (when he's still only in his mid 20's btw) when the game has slowed down for him and he learns to use all his physical tools as well as his mind.

    Finally, while I don't endorse using FA as a way to construct a team, let's not forget that the Cubs do and will have deep pockets and are simply being smart by saving up now while they have young/cheap players. If they need a #1 when the team looks ready, they will get it... either by trade or FA. I'm not as anxious about the SP as everyone else on the board. We absolutely need it, but I think we'll get it over the next 2-3 years. Just not all at once.

  • Last year and the beginning of this I was criticle of Castro and his inability to focus, but he put together a block of time most of this year where that was not a problem. I think I confused immaturity for attitude issues. Dale S., Soriano, Barney and others may have helped, but he looks like hard working talented kid to me now. I wouldn't mind seeing him get a scheduled day off occasionally.

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