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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