Cubs to sign Carlos Villanueva

Cubs to sign Carlos Villanueva

The Cubs pulled a fast one on us but for Cubs Den readers this is a familiar name.  Jon Heyman is tweeting that the Cubs have agreed to sign 28 year old RHP Carlos Villanueva.

He was another one of the names I targeted back in September.

As a starter, he has allowed just a .281 OBP and a .670 OPS in 12 starts.  His K/BB ratio has been an outstanding 3.94.  The strikeout rate has stayed at about a K per inning but it's the improved control that has made all the difference in the world for Villanueva.  He has gone from a rate of 5.67/9 IP to 2.25/9 IP as a starter.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noticed, however, and there should be heavier than expected competition for Villanueva's services this winter.

The market didn't develop for Villanueva as I expected despite his strong finish.  There were lingering doubts as to whether he had the durability to be a starter.  He'll likely get the opportunity to start the year in the rotation and then things will sort themselves out once Scott Baker returns from his injury.

After the Cubs lost out on Sanchez, I mentioned Villanueva once again as a likely candidate.

At the time I said this:

The name I like here is 29 year old Carlos Villanueva.  He gives the Cubs some flexibility in that he was successful both as a starter and out of the bullpen last year.  He has even closed in his career.  The reason Villanueva is a potential bargain is that 1) he doesn't have a long track record of success and 2) teams are convinced he won't hold up as a starter long term.  With regard to the first reason, that is a valid concern.  Villanueva has always had talent, but never put it together until last season.  His command has improved significantly,however, over the past two seasons and that has been the main reason for his turnaround.  With regard to the second issue, he may not have to be a full-time starter for the Cubs.  He can start the season in the rotation but potentially return to the bullpen once Scott Baker comes back.  He could then regain a spot later in the season if the Cubs make trades at the deadline.  At the same time, if he shows he can hold up as a starter, there's nothing to say that another pitcher, perhaps Travis Wood or Scott Feldman, can go to the bullpen.  Or perhaps it means the Cubs can deal a pitcher earlier in season.  It offers the team a lot of flexibility.

If the Cubs turn to free agency, then given the potential to add value and some flexibility, my choices now are Villanueva and Francisco Liriano.

Good signing and perhaps a better fit for a rebuilding team.

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  • I'm heading out to the Chicago Now holiday party everyone. I'll get to comments later tonight!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Keep picking the right horse, John! Before long it'll be "john arguello tweets that the Cubs have signed justin verlander..." keep up the great work. Love this signing.

  • Sounds like a solid signing...adds some depth to the rotation and the bullpen. It appears there is going to be a dog fight for the back end of the rotation this spring, which is a good thing.

    I think this also solidifies a spot in the bullpen for Vizcaino. Bring him along slowly and look for him to be a SP in 2014.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I don't think there is any reason whatsoever for Vizcaino to pitch for the Cubs before September.

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    I think he will start in the bullpen in AA, move up to AAA in May/June and be in the Cubs pen in late July early August. His surgery was in March so by summer he should be fine.

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    Assuming they did not beak the bank here, solid signing of flexibility.
    Does anyone else find it interesting that Big Z has yet to surface on any rumor sight? Is he going to have to take a minor league deal with an invite to Houston?

  • In reply to Louie101:

    Does he actually still want to play? I can remember him saying a year ago or so, that he was gonna retire after that contract. Could be all talk. But I believed him at the time, he's got plenty of money. And I haven't heard nothing about him.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    Zambrano was possibly the worst player on a bad Marlins team last year. Considering his age and the fact that he's also a nutjob, his career is probably over.

    The guy he got traded for (Volstad) was considered to be possibly the worst player on a bad Cubs team. But he has youth on his side so he's getting another chance.

  • With all these signings if the player has less at 6 yr major league
    service time, does he still belong to the Cubs after 2013? Please
    do another list, listings all the pitchers acquired (including Loux)
    and what their role might be (i.e., starter)

  • fb_avatar

    I still hope they're going to keep making a strong push for Jackson. That would enable us at some point to spin off a starter or two, for hitters for 3B & CF.

  • I hope they aren't finished making moves. Have some players to
    put in a package. Who is going to be moved after this signing?

  • Now this is good news!

  • On 40 man roster?...if so...who is off?

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    I can think of about 20 candidates.

  • Wonder who's gonna sign him for more money... ;)

  • John, do you think this takes the Cubs out on Jackson?

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    FWIW, I seem to recall stories indicating that the Cubs had a backup in place if their pursuit of Sanchez fizzled and that they were also specifically interested in Vallenueva, suggesting that they may have been targeting 2 pitchers and not just one.


    Remaining FA's. Maybe invite a few to camp

  • John
    Enjoy a few well earned scotches!
    I like Villanueva as the bridge to Baker & as a potential setup to Fuji if Marmol is dealt

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    Great article John!
    His improvement in control is impressive and the versatility you spoke to could be huge for the Cubs. I wonder if this lessens the chance that they'll keep pushing for Jackson. If they were to land him, I like TheRiot's idea about ultimately trading for a couple of pieces they need.
    I love the fact that they're being very active and being mentioned on many FA's! If they catch some breaks with expected performance from some of these signings, Cubs could realistically be at least a .500 team in 2013.

  • Good signing of a very good, effective pitcher although one who has been dogged with fading lapses from time to time. If Bosio can get him to be consistent, the Cubs really have themselves a winner!

  • I'll believe it when the Cubs announce it.

  • Now MLBR is saying that it's NOT a done deal. Here we go again!!

  • I wonder if Travis Wood is out there as trade bait....We could have as many as 6 starters now with some young depth that could fill in. We won't trade Garza right away, Samardzjia is a core player and we just signed Baker and Feldman so can't see trading them. Wood has value as a young lefty who had some real good stretches so could bring some value....

  • 2013 Opening Day far



    Plus one IF back-up


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    *Sigh* As always, there is this:

    #Cubs are talking to free agent RHP Carlos Villanueva & also RHP Edwin Jackson. Nothing done yet

  • Wonder what we're going to do about the 40-man. Once Schierholtz comes in that's 41 then Villanueva 42, if we get Jackson 43. Marmol for small package of prospects seems most likely, then I suppose adios to campana "the fastest cub north of Havana."

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    In reply to Furiousjeff:

    I think Havana Campana is the first to go.


    This is not a done deal according two sources.......

    Here we go again.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    If it is not a done deal I think it is the Cubs doing. They may be trying to leverage down Edwin Jackson's asking price. But, I imagine it's done otherwise and the Cubs have yet to announce it.

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    In reply to Jive Wired:

    That was my thinking, too. This may be the first legitimate Cubs leak of the Hot Stove Season.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Five sources say it is confirmed and is just being finalized so I agree with you Mike.

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    In reply to Jive Wired:

    There you go - Cleveland is the 'mystery team' in on Edwin Jackson. Smart, proactive move by the Cubs to get Villanueva just in case Jackson goes to CLE or TEX or if his price gets past the comfortable stage.

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    In reply to Jive Wired:

    I've been very impressed with Cleveland's moves this off-season. They're another team acquiring quality young talent and getting ready to make a big push.

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    It's never frickin' easy with us. Good signing if it happens. Excellent signing, actually.

  • Indians joined the party for Jackson.

  • Looking through the comments I' m seeing "excellent" & "very good" with regards to Villanueva. Pitchers who warrant those adjectives don' t get shuttled back and forth between the bullpen and rotation. Especially on average teams like Toronto. They also usually don't get labeled as ' potential bargains'. Not saying it's a bad sign if it actually happens. From a flexibility/insurance standpoint it's a useful sign. Don' t get me wrong...welcome to the club, Carlos but I' m hoping this doesn't come at the expense of Jackson. Like to have both...

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    In reply to Ben20:

    Exactly. They need to start adding pieces for the future and Jackson will be one. Contrary to belief, the Cubs will not spend 300+ million next offseason or the one after, so they need to piece a move here, trade here, ect.

    Hopefully Ben, they can sign both.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Right on, Jim! I was kinda hoping all along that Jackson would be one of the last men standing. Guaranteed he' d rather pitch/live in Chicago than Cleveland! Even without signing him the Cubs look to have built a solid B minus-B pitching staff. Stuff- wise maybe even B plus.

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    In reply to Ben20:

    Villanueva will give you 10-12 starts where he is 4.00 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP and then he'll give you a month straight where e gets bombed (9.31 ERA, 1.80 WHIP). It has always been a durability issue. But that may be a result of having so few innings under his belt. My guess is the Cubs feel they can get him trained similarly to Samardzija (or however you spell it) so that if they need him for 30 starts (doubtful) he is capable. But signing him is probably more about flexibility.

  • Carl Butts ‏@CarlButtsMLB
    Cubs have an agreement in place with Carlos Villanueva for 2 year/$8.5MM deal with mutual option for a 3rd year at $6.5MM/$1MM buy-out #Cubs

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    how do u know this guys legit?

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I don't know him at all. I don't even follow him on twitter, but someone I do re-tweeted this.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'd be very, very surprised if that was the deal. That seems like a big overpay to me for a swingman. If that is the deal, the Cubs must have a lot of confidence in turning him into a dependable starter, because that's a terrible deal if they expect him to be mostly a reliever.

  • Now lets see where do I want to live Chicago, Cleveland or Texas?
    Hard choice but I will pick?

  • Call me crazy but is there anyone else out there that kinda hopes we can ambush Swisher with a 2 year deal?? Maybe 2/28? He' s less than a perfect fit with our plan...I totally get that. Consider these things though....switch hitter. Winning player. 20-25 with 80-90. Very tradeable commodity. Durable. Insurance against Soriano. Insurance against Rizzo (who' d play first for a month if he pulls a groin?) Great clubhouse guy. Lots of fan value/good "team ambassador" if you will. Again feel free to call me crazy. I've been called worse. Today actually. But if there are things about Swisher that you DON' T like, then you probably never played baseball.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Other than the sub- par glove of course. Versatility and intelligence make up for that a little bit...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ben20:

    Only thing I dislike a little about Swisher is against the better pitching, hes horrible as well as in the playoffs ( at least lately)

    Main thing is he things hes worth way more then he really is. He benefited from playing in a hitters park in a great lineup and put up great numbers, but now thinks hes a 80+ million type player. I have to disagree.

    If he signed for something similar that you suggested. Boy, I would be super excited for the reasons in your wrote !!

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I' d pay a guy that' s had 8 good seasons in a row a lot more than 14 million dollars to suck in the playoffs for us! Hopefully some of the other guys will be on fire ;)

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Would signing Swisher cost us our 2nd draft pick?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Yes it would. A team signing a player that was given a "qualifying offer" by their previous team would give up their first draft pick, unless that falls in the top 10 picks of the first round. In that case the signing teams forfeits their 2nd pick.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ben19:

    Yup, I hate that they dont have those sandwiched picks between the 1st and 2nd for this stuff.

  • Read they might be looking at Sizemore

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to emartinezjr:

    They should sign Swisher, Sizemore, and then go find Joe Wallis. :)

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I'd stay far far away from Swisher, how'd he do with the white sox?

  • Cubs Sign RHP Cory Wade to Minor League Contract

    According to the transactions page on, the Cubs signed right-handed reliever Cory Wade to a minor league contract that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training on December 13.

    The 29-year old righty spent the last two seasons with the Yankees and was 1-1 record last year with a 6.46 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. In 39 games, Wade struck out 38, walked eight and surrendered 46 hits in 39 innings.

    Cory Wade posted a 7-2 record with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in 79 appearances over the last two seasons with the Yankees. Wade split time between the Bronx and Triple-A and in 78 2/3 innings he gave up 79 hits with 68 strikeouts and 16 walks.

    Cory Wade’s Page on Baseball-Reference

    Cory Wade joins Blake Parker, Jensen Lewis, J.C. Boscan, Edwin Maysonet, Brian Bogusevic, Alberto Gonzalez and Johermyn Chavez as players that have signed minor league contracts this off-season with the Cubs that includes non-roster invites to big league camp

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Talked about this guy a lot this offseason. Nice signing.

  • Nice, good pick up. Hope it goes through. Anyone know the terms?

  • Cory Wade could end up being a huge win for the FO!

  • The Cubs are still in on Jackson. They realize they need SP depth and this is a welcomed approach.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Just saw that.

    Where were you tonight? it was a pretty good time!

  • Depth in starting pitching, hope they continue to build it. With the dearth of sp in the upper minors these free agent signings become ersatz farm team pitchers for the franchise until they are able to bring up their own. It is almost essential unless you want to wait around for 6 or 7 years. Now if they could trade for some prospects to back fill the upper minors with some pitching, then you can start to see some of the sustained success with farm system talent contributing, instead of having to "borrow" the talent from other teams via free agency. Good to see the franchise move agressively on this, and other fronts as well.

  • In reply to eddie35:

    Really like what they're doing here with pitching and defense. They won't hit a lot but they should be able to stay in a lot of ballgames.

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