The Cubs off-season activity continued on Friday. The North Siders added outfielder Shane Peterson and catcher Ryan Lavarnway from the waiver wire and have a deal with free-agent catcher David Ross. The Jason Motte signing was also made official.
The addition of the two backstops may mean the end of catcher Welington Castillo’s Cubs career. Newly acquired Miguel Montero and Rafael Lopez are on the 40-man roster. An official announcement hasn’t been made on the Ross signing so a trade is likely in the works to free up a roster spot. With four catchers on the roster and Ross waiting in the wings, more than one move may be coming.
Ross was the personal catcher for Jon Lester in Boston and now the two are re-united on the North Side. A report earlier in the day had Ross going to the Padres but he took to social media and tweeted he hadn’t signed with San Diego. A few hours later, it was announced he had a deal with Chicago.
A 13-year veteran of the majors, Ross was a 7th round pick by the Dodgers in 1998 and made his debut in 2002 for Los Angeles. The 37-year-old has spent most of his career in the National League but was in Boston the past two seasons, including catching four games in the 2013 World Series (.188, 3-for-16, 1 RBI). A right-handed hitter, Ross has a career .233/.318/.435 slash line and hit 21 homers for the Reds in 2006. He’s also played with the Padres, Pirates, and Braves. Ross provides veteran leadership and should catch around 50 games for the Cubs in 2015 in a back-up role.
Designated for assignment by A’s after the Rule 5 draft, Peterson made his MLB debut in 2013, playing in two games in April but has essentially spent the last two years in AAA. The 26-year-old hit .308/.381/.460 with 11 HR and 90 RBI for Sacramento in ’14, earning PCL all-star honors. Drafted by the Cardinals in the 2nd round in 2008, Peterson was traded to the A’s in the Matt Holliday deal. Peterson essentially take Justin Ruggiano’s (traded to Seattle) spot on the 40-man roster.
Here’s what Oakland Clubhouse had to say about Peterson, who was ranked as one of the A’s top 50 prospects. “Peterson offers a manager a lot of versatility. The left-hander can play all three outfield spots and he has a solid glove at first base. Peterson isn't a burner, but he runs well and is a smart base-runner. For his career, he 73 stolen bases in 88 chances (83%). Peterson has consistently been a tough out throughout his minor league career. His career on-base percentage is .375 and he has 547 strike-outs in 643 career games. In a lot of ways, Peterson is a poor-man's Mark Kotsay. He doesn't have Kotsay's defensive prowess in center and has less power, but, like Kotsay, Peterson is an instinctual player who adds a number of different elements to a roster.”
Lavarnway’s off-season has been eventful as he was waived by the Red Sox, claimed by the Dodgers in early December and then waived again a week later. On Friday, Lavarnway was re-united with Theo Epstein as the Yale product was the BoSox 6th round pick in 2008, making his MLB debut in 2011. The 27-year-old has bounced between Boston and Pawtucket the last four years, playing 97 games for Boston (.201/.249/.315). Known for his bat in the minors and ranked in the Top 100 in 2012, Lavarnway has a career minor league slash of .283/.375/.479 and smacked 32 homers in 2011 between AA/AAA. A right-handed bat, the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder gives Cubs depth behind the plate and also plays first base.
The Cubs Minor League Player of the Year in 2012, Watkins played 31 games for Chicago in 2014 (.246/.269/.338) and hit .256/.327/.364 in 103 games at AAA Iowa. The 25-year-old has played second most of career but has also seen action at all three outfield positions, including 32 games in AAA in ’14. Drafted by the Cubs in 21st round in 2008, Watkins may not clear waivers and the Kansas native could be in a new uniform come spring training. The hand writing was on the wall for Watkins’ future with the Cubs after they traded for Tommy La Stella from Atlanta.
Roach’s Cubs career may be over before it starts if he doesn’t clear waivers. Acquired by Chicago on Nov. 12 after being assigned by the Padres, the 25-year-old made his pro debut in 2014 for San Diego after being a third-round pick by the Angels in 2010. Roach and his right-arm became expandable when the Cubs signed Jason Motte.
Motte’s one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Cubs became official on Friday. The right-hander adds another power arm to the Cubs pen and gives Manager Joe Maddon options in the closer role with Hector Rondon. Motte missed the 2013 season after Tommy John surgery and appeared in 29 games with St. Louis in ’14.
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