Cubs sign LH reliever Wesley Wright

Cubs sign LH reliever Wesley Wright

It may not be the move you were hoping for but the Cubs did fill an important need today by signing LHP Wesley Wright.  The 28 year old former Ray was 0-4 last season with a 3.69 ERA.  He has spent most of his career with the Houston Astros and has a 4.37 career ERA.

What Wright can do is miss bats (9.22 Ks/9 IP; 23.7% K rate) with a solid low 90s fastball, slider, curve, and change-up.  He worked 71 games out of the pen, so he's used to working frequently.  He should be able to give James Russell a much needed breather.  The presence of Zac Rosscup, Chris Rusin, and Brooks Raley also gives the team some flexiblity to deal a LHP.

His control has improved over the last few years but he still walks about 3 batters per 9 innings.   He's also prone to the long ball, though he did have some bad luck there with a HR/FB rate that jumped by about 5% last year.  When you normalize his HR rate, you get an xFIP of 3.32 -- certainly an acceptable number for your second lefty out of the pen and it is a number roughly equivalent to what he has put up for the past 3 seasons.  If the Cubs can find a way to help him keep the ball down and in the park, there is still some room for improvement.

He's more effective against LHP, putting up a career FIP of 2.93 vs.5.75 vs. RHP, so we can expect him to be used often as a situational lefty.  It's a good add and should give the Cubs some much needed support vs. LH hitters.

Per a scout,

Decent zip and some movement to the fastball, arm slot makes the slider tough to pick up for LHH.

The deal is for one year and $1.42M.

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  • fb_avatar

    Nice deal on a not ridiculous contract. Nice to see there are still rational contracts to sign. :)

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I missed on him as a free agent. Not a glamour signing but makes sense and fills a need.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    He was non-tendered by the Rays. Cubs acted fast. And he's also under control for 2015 through arbitration.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the best part of this signing is that it will give James Russell a little bit of a break. Allow him to pitch on more rest.

  • Seems like a safe, solid signing.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    Solid is how I'd put it. Fills a need, gives them some depth, flexibility.

  • John,

    Before the offseason, there was talk of the Cubs adding a veteran closer you still see that as a possibility after this signing ?

    The roster seems to be getting crowded at the moment .....

    Starters: Wood, Shark, E. Jackson, Arrieta, Rusin
    Pen: Stoop, Parker, Russell, C. Villanueva, Wright, Rondon

    That's 12 pitchers which leaves 1 open spot ..... A. Cabrera is out of options and Baker's possible return ?

    Thanks for the hard work year round !!!

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    You're welcome and thank you. I do. It may not be a "proven closer", but I think it could be a veteran who they believe is capable of closing. Andrew Bailey is a possibility, though he won't be ready until the summer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm starting to think that there may be value to be found in a "proven" closer. I've been on the never waste money on a proven closer or give any reliever more than a 2 year contract bandwagons for years and years. And it seems that, other than a few stupid holdouts like Amaro, most teams are following that philosophy now. Which means that more and more teams are developing new closers and then getting rid of them once their cost escalates. There are a number of proven closers out on the market and the truth is there are not may openings for those guys because nobody wants to pay them knowing that they can just find a different guy for cheaper.

    So late in the winter there may be a couple of good pitchers who have to swallow their pride and accept less money/years or sign on to become a setup man instead of a closer. A team like the Cubs, who have openings and at least a little money to spend might be able to swoop in come January and grab one or maybe even two guys that are still looking for a guaranteed spot before spring training.

    Because starters are working fewer and fewer innings, bullpens are becoming more and more important, but because of reliever performance volatility that being proven is becoming a bad thing in a way for a reliever and the Cubs could try to take advantage. The Cubs are all about market inefficiencies and finding hidden value. Look at what the A's are doing. Spending money and grabbing good relievers that other teams are trign to dump.

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    I thought we might have had enough internally...But this is a really, nice little move. Allows for that much more flexibility at the deadline.
    Make one of these higher level lefties like Rosscup earn a call up!

  • This signing may have extended James Russell's career by a couple years.

  • Hadn't even realized that getting him on contract was an option. Not a bad, if not an inspiring signing.

  • Hopefully they are talking to Daniel Hudson now.

  • In reply to Greg Menke:

    Resigning with D-backs.

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    What I don't like about this signing is that it indicates the FO still won't see Russell as a LOOGY, which is what he is to my eyes. His numbers against righties are ugly, and were especially so last season. I'd much rather have one LOOGY (either Russell or Wright) and another lefty who could actually handle right-handed batters. I'd especially like to see what Rusin could do from the bullpen.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to João Lucas:

    Not "to my eyes", IN my eyes! Damn prepositions.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    He's not making much. I suspect their is going to be a wide open competition in camp for 4th & 5th spots in the rotation and to lock down jobs in the bullpen.

    New manager, and pitching coach Chris Bosio said the other day that he wants to give some of the younger guys a shot and see what they can do in Spring Training.

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    I like the move a lot. Relatively cheap. Gives another lefty option out of the pen to reduce the workload on Russell a bit. Even opens up the possibility of trading Russell should the opportunity come up at the GM meetings.

  • Is Russell maybe in on a trade package?

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I wouldn't be opposed to trading him before we all find out his arm fell off once the season ended.

  • fb_avatar

    Wondering if this doesn't mean Russell will be dealt, as some have speculated. Rusin or Rosscup would likely be a 2nd LH arm in the 'pen. It's not necessarily a move a contending team would make, but...

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I think it at least gives them that option/flexibility.

  • Cheap F/A signings......that is what Theo & Jed is all about.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I think it's what they're about right now. Why dump cash when you won't win now anyway? What impact FAs will be available in 2015-2017 when the kids have more experience?

  • In reply to edubbs:

    Exactly - and especially when you can spread around relatively small amounts of cash for guys to fill needs, for which you still have a year or two of cost-control, and who if they don't work out, or if you find your club in a surplus situation (for example - now having potentially up to 4 Major-league ready Lefty relievers/spot starters on roster). Gives you options in general, and options you can use to supplement trades.

    I view this as a low-cost, low-risk, potentially greater than replacement value reward signing.

  • Everyone had this in the FA prediction contest right....?

    But this was a really clever signing due to the extra year of control. Similar to the Schierholtz signing correct? Sign a one year deal and get two years of control due to the amount of accrued service time?

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Haha :) Not a one. I didn't think of it either.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Pretty tough to predict non-tenders. Too many variables and similar players. If he was a straight up free agent I'm sure someone would have mentioned him.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Very true. I missed him on the non-tender list. In part because I didn't expect him to be non-tendered and wasn't keeping an eye on him.

  • I head SD is interested in Russell. What pitching prospects is he

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I hope the Padres think Casey Kelly

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I don't know actually. I know the Cubs seem to like Rey Fuentes, a LH hitting CF who could be both a short and long term fit. Maybe there is a deal to be made that involves him somehow.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Why would San Diego be interested in Russell when they have 3 solid lefties in their bullpen already?

  • In reply to krn99:

    I have to correct this comment. Joe Thatcher is no longer on the Padres roster, and I forgot that they moved Stultz to the rotation last year, and Richards is a free agent.

  • David Price going to Seattle it seems!......Seattle will send their best pitching prospect to the Rays.

    Arizona will be offering allot more now for Shark if Price is gone.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    The Dback are not going to put Bradley on the table for Samardzija.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    Thank you.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Yes, that's true. So D-Backs have no chance of getting the Shark without Bradley centering the deal.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Who do we want from Ariz other than Bradley who we don't have a chance at?

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I think the Smaradzija trade will include a Cubs prospect....maybe Soler!...and Schierholtz.........the return from Arizona will include Bradley, Delgado, Barrett & Spruill.

  • Lack of a second lefty was glaring last year. I hope they can keep Russell (& use him less).

  • Theo talked about planning and building out the depth chart on Sports Talk Live Wednesday night, so the Wright signing gives the Cubs a second experienced loogy. Having roster choices is at the top of his to-do list.

  • Wow, just as I thought, I doubt the Rakutan Eagles post Tanaka now...

    According to a report from Japanese report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (on Twitter), the Rakuten Golden Eagles are the only NPB team to stand against the proposed changes. The Golden Eagles, of course, are Masahiro Tanaka's team.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    It has to be a unanimous agreement or it doesn't pass. I think Rakutan signed off early this morning on the posting process.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I said I doubt they post Tanaka - Not that they won't sign off on the agreement.

  • A lot of drama happening right now...I love it. It's anyone's guess what might happen with Tanaka, or with Samardzija. A lot of things to keep track of this winter.

    I like the Wright signing because there's no guarantee that Russell hasn't completely lost it. He was really bad from June on last year. Also, Rosscup is probably not quite MLB ready and the Cubs may be better served by letting Rusin start at Iowa rather than relieve at the MLB level.

    I'm very curious to see what the Cubs do regarding a late inning reliever. If they finally decide to do what it takes to tidy up the pen a bit--rather than just treat the bullpen as an ongoing tryout camp for waiver claims--the Cubs will likely flirt with the .500 mark in 2014. It won't win them a high draft pick, but might be a nice change from what we've been used to. To me, there are a lot of reasons to expect improvement next year, even if the Cubs don't add significant players.

  • fb_avatar

    Check out Jesse Rogers being called out by Cody Ransom on twitter.

    Moves Ransom way up in my books. How did Jesse Rogers even get that gig? Nepotism? Blackmail?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Theo Einstein:

    Bad mistake for a beat can't alienate players like that and get your job done.

    Ransom was pretty replacement level, but didn't deserve that comment

  • What it does say is the sad state of affairs about baseball writers and reporters in Chicago. With very few exceptions, this city is pretty weak when it comes to baseball writers/reporters.

  • fb_avatar

    Cody ransom just became one of my all time favorites

  • We got a final agreement with MLB & NPB!!! Let's go get Tanaka!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I believe the money will be there for us to get it done. I have no clue what his contract will look like, but something similar to Anibal Sanchez's last year seems reasonable to me. Who knows with how inflated this year's contracts have been.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    That's if he even wants to play for the Cubs. He can play anywhere he wants and I suspect a team like Seattle or LAD could throw way more contract dollars at Tanaka than the Cubs will feel comfortable with offering.

    All this does is make Tanaka a pure free agent. I suspect most teams would have no problem paying the $20M posting fee.

    It may be a tougher sign for the Cubs.

    1. We will see if Hoyer really is "all in."
    2. It will be crazy to see whatt kind of contract he lands.

    In the old posting system teams were figuratively "allotting" for a $100-$130M total payout (including posting fees) with Tanaka thought to get about a 5/$60M contract.

    The upside for the Cubs is they are nowhere near being in danger of eclipsing the salary cap so they have room to maneuver, more than any team except Houston I believe. But a lot of teams could fit a 6/$75M contract on their payrolls, or more.

    And what about length of contract? SEA was willing to go NINE years on Ellsbury. NINE!

    If Edwin Jackson and Scott Kazmir are worth $11M/year what is Tanaka worth? $14M? $15M? More than that? I could see SEA going 7/$105M

    I hope the Cubs get him, but the field is wide open now.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think that the cubs have the finances to go 14+MM/yr if they think that's what it will take. Of the two teams you mentioned, if Seattle signs Cano I just don't see them being willing to put up a mega-deal for Tanaka and I doubt LA will be able to either with the need to resign Kershaw this season, Greinke's and Beckett's contracts, Haren at 10MM, and Ryu in the fold. I think they were really expecting to be able to go crazy and make a high bid in the previous posting system and then get him on a more reasonable offer as far as cap hit (5/60MM), but with the new agreement putting less stress on the initial bid and more on the cap hit because of an open market, I don't think they will be as big of a threat. I think they will still be in the hunt, but not impossible to outbid as they would have been in the previous agreement. If his price is driven up, I see them being content with a Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu-Beckett-Haren rotation and allocating more money to resigning Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez.

    Long story short, I think the Cubs have the least amount of salary restriction (for once) and therefore will have the best shot to land Tanaka if they think he is worth the price.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Seattle has a very low payroll and deep pockets. Tanaka would be an immediate fan favorite in that community. I have been to Seattle. They sell sushi dogs for cry eye. Even if the sign Cano they will have room for Tanaka and other pieces too. If you add Tanaka to Hernandez, Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker and Paxton, that's a legit World Series contending staff.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    We can easily afford to offer him that 7/$105MM and then some...

    I've said all along that it will come down to how we grade him internally. Although now, the player gets a say in where he plays, and the bulk of the $ spent. Which isn't a bad thing.

  • fb_avatar

    In the (likely) event that more than one team submits the same high bid, the player will be allowed to negotiate with each of those teams. Only the team that signs that player would be required to pay the posting fee.

  • So a player will essentially be a free agent, with all clubs submitting the max bid being allowed to bid.

    Is there any reason for ANY team not to make the max bid, just to see how things shake out?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    No reason. Basically a regular FA type situation +20mm that doesn't count against the cap. In some ways it helps the Cubs, as they have so much cap room and the Yankees and Dodgers don't.

  • fb_avatar

    Long time reader first time poster....

    I do agree that the low max bid bascially makes Tanaka a true free agent and it becomes kind of a crapshoot at this point. However, I do believe the Cubs have some advantages over other teams if we assume the Cubs do indeed have money to spend and are not handcuffed by the Rickets. If the Cubs were willing to spend $50 million+ on the posting fee and then another $60 million on the a five year deal (I realize this is conjecture), then what's to stop them from going $110 million on a five or six year deal if they feel he is worth it? And at that point it removes a lot of other teams from the mix, possibly including the Yankees if they truly do not want to exceed the salary cap. My main concern is that his NPB team won't post him for a mere $20 million. Thoughts?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to GreenLine:

    It doesn't stop the Cubs from doing that, but in one scenario (under the old rules) you are looking at a $12M per year hit and in another you are looking at a $18M+ salary hit, so we know the Cubs think he is worth the money, what we don't know is if they think he is worth that much toward the cap ceiling.

    Further, if you give Tanaka that much, Samardzija is going to want significantly more.

  • fb_avatar

    Two trade ideas suggested by BP this morning for this year's Winter Meetings.

    It's subscriber only content so I am not going to add the reasons why they feel these moves make sense, or their suggested trade for David Price by Tampa, who they feel would net a #1 catching prospect straight up for Price, and nothing else.

    6. Cubs acquire Brett Anderson from the Athletics for Dan Vogelbach and one or two lower-level prospects

    7. Nationals acquire Chris Davis and Brian Matusz from the Orioles; Cubs acquire A.J. Cole from the Nationals and Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles; Orioles acquire Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon, and Steven Souza from the Nationals, and Jeff Samardzija and Dan Vogelbach from the Cubs

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Eduardo Rodriguez is intriguing. Anderson seems like a stop gap, although this board seems to like him.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I haven't kept up with those prospects so I'll anxiously await John & Kevin to chime in... But going off of what I remember from them, we're talking about a boom/bust TOR SP with Cole and a finesse Lefty in Rodriguez... meh. We could have a true ACE in 2 years or nothing...

    Unless Cole has significantly raised his floor, this doesn't strike me as the type of deal Epstoyer would make.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Just found this on Rodriguez, he may be a tick more than a #4/5 Finesse Lefty. There's some upside at least.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Absolutely. He's potentially better than a bottom of the rotation lefty. Good arm.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    You are misunderstanding the market then. Two years of Samarzija and Vogelbach does not get you another team's top two pitching prospects.

    This would be a good deal for the Cubs.

    The return of Cole and Rodriguez feels right, with each likely to start 2014 at Double A with a Major League ETA of 2015. This lines up well with the wave of impact position prospects heading to the North Side around that time, and adds pitching depth to an otherwise hitter-heavy system. With such a large influx of cheap talent set to debut over the next couple of years, and the Cubs on the hook for just around $30 million starting 2015, there should be plenty of payroll room for Chicago to augment the young talent with a handful of impact free agents, including a front-end arm along the lines of a David Price.

    Theo & Co. could likewise package some of that young offensive talent to address areas of need by the time the Cubbies are ready to make their aggressive push.

    Vogelbach has a limited profile with his raw power and hit his only potential carrying tools. With much of the Cubs system already containing power at the corners, he's an easy trade candidate that fits best as a future DH on an American League club.

    If the Cubs value Cole and Rodriguez as potential no. 2 or no. 3 starters, it's a very nice return for two years of a quality arm that has flashed mid-rotation potential, and a future DH with no clear home in Wrigley.

    PS - combining names into one like "Epstoyer" or "Jedstein" is so off-putting. What is this, TMZ?

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I like the Lefty reverse thing w/ Eduardo Rodriguez and he's really young. I guess I have a thing for finesse pitchers. More and More though I think we need to move JS now. He is going to tie up too much $$$ for too long and be close to his downside in 2 years when we are ready to complete, and we can't do both him and Tanaka now that most of Tanaka money will be against our spending restrictions. Flipping him for really young cost controlled pitching is the prudent approach.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    The last time Anderson threw over 100 innings was 2010, and even then it was only 112. I think we would be better off waiting Vogs out to get to higher levels, and if he's still producing I think he nets a bit more.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I don't like Anderson, but most of the board does. I think the risk is too high.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:


  • Can't imagine why we would trade Vogelbach for
    Anderson. Is there any reason to believe that he will be more than a # 4/5 starter?

    I admit that I know little about his stuff.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    If he's healthy, Anderson is the Cubs best're just always going to be holding your breath that he stays healthy. I think I might make that trade, but I wouldn't feel good about it. At some point the Cubs need to take a risk to acquire talent, whether it's a big contract or giving up an asset like Vogelbach.

  • All of those proposed deals only make sense for one of the teams involved. For example, trading a rare lefty power prospect like Vogelbach for a broken down oft-injured pitcher like Anderson makes no sense for the Cubs. Not only that but the Cubs should throw away 2 more prospects in the deal clearly shows that the writer has not thought his proposals through for both teams. AJ Cole could make sense for us in the right deal but Rodriguez makes no sense as we are already glutted with soft-tossing lefties.

  • The new posting fee rules actually makes it less likely the Cubs get Tanaka in my opinion. The Yankees just gave Ellsbury $153 mil, they wouldn't blink in givng that same deal to Tanaka. Same for the Dodgers.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I don't think either have the payroll flexibility to go 153MM on Tanaka.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    The Yankees are still in it for Cano, they have the money. The Dodgers have unlimited money.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    The luxury tax cap is not "unlimited". Also, the Dodgers have an expensive proven 5 man rotation already and are trying to resign Kershaw and Ramirez. I know they will be in the race, but do not have "unlimited" money or a need to go above and beyond to get Tanaka. The Cubs have the least restrictions by far, so it definitely gives them much more than a fighting chance.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Fair enough, but the Yankees haven't cared about the luxury tax and despite reports they will reign in spending, they've shown no signs of doing that.

    Regarding the Dodgers, reports were coming out earlier this year that they were going to attempt to acquire both Tanaka and David Price. Again, money is not a problem for them.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    It's unlimited if you are willing to pay the tax. The Dodgers have deep pockets. Plus if they trade Kemp, they can sign Tanaka.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    The Kemp trade scenario puts a much different spin on the whole thing. But I still believe that if the Dodgers are willing to go that much over the cap it will be in other areas as they have a pretty set rotation and should only be adding depth to the bottom, not piling on the top. But you never truly know with them. I know they will be serious bidders, I just think that the Cubs have more flexibility to go over them if they so choose.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Nice post. This is the truth. The Cubs will have more flexibility than almost anybody, especially when you scale out their current payroll to 2015 and 2016 where it fall to $30M and lower (dependent of course on what they do with Samardzija).

    Ultimately, with this system. Tanaka will get paid what he is worth or above due to basically a free market system. So I guess it just depends what Hoyer feels Tanaka is worth, and of course, if he is willing to even negotiate with the Cubs.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Very true. All this speculation is great fun, but what it really comes down to is what our scouting department thinks. And none of us have much of a clue on that.

  • I don't give up Shark and VBomb unless its Cole/ Gausman in that scenario . but that's just me.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Spellcheck and Vogelbomb? Id want BOTH Bundy AND Gausman.

  • Me too!

  • First time commenter. After reading this blog for several months, I am certain of only one thing. The Cubs really need Tanaka at any cost, even at Darvish money. We need something to be excited about this season.

  • I can't seem to find what the Yankees payroll is currently at if you subtract out the A-Rod money and give guys arb raises.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    There is a site called Major League Depth Charts that has contract/salary info for all 40-man rosters.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:


  • YaAll

    I sure feel a lot of disgust in the tone of many of the comments here..,and its growing. I have had to take a step back myself, try to assess my feelings, gather some hope, and establish an objective for this year. After the triple overtime loss, things sort of clarified a bit, for me.

    1--We don't have a point guard who can distribute the ball AND score points by outside shooting and getting to the basket with some consistency . Kirk is a very, very inconsistent outside scorer who also cant get to the basket.

    2--I'm just guessing here, but Noah is having a battle in his mind overcoming the loss of Rose, and all that means(absolutely no chance at a title, this year). The result is an inconsistent effort. He may be consciously trying, subconsciously, he knows Bulls will be one and done, at best, in the playoffs)

    3--Boozer, like Noah, is mentally down + Taj is making him a second banana at PF. A double punch he has to try and overcome.

    4--Either our D is way down because Jimmy is gone..,or, we have lost our will---don't have a prize in sight for this year--and our days as a D-team are over. (I'm buying its because Jimmys gone.., but when Kirk gets his next injury, and the wait for Noah to be a full time energizer again, I'm not as sure as I once was.)

    Hopes, and SOON.

    1---Thibs can sell the team on a playoff bid...,get their minds right(Hard sell, very hard)

    2---Some kind of trade which includes an upgrade at PG who can drive and score on a moderate basis.

    3--The trade involves Boozer.., not necessarily Deng. ( A feat for which I will bow down to Gar/Pax forever)

    4--Snell continues to improve.. and gets the steady minutes to prove it.


  • fb_avatar

    Great another over paid nobody ... Can we at least copy what the Yankees do? anything ... something? I would like to go to a Cubs World Series before I die. But with signings like this ..... When I die I want Cubs ball players to be my pall bearers so they can let me down 1 last time.

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