Cubs Notebook Feb. 2

The Cubs signed right-hander Carlos Pimentel and outfielder Mike Baxter to minor league deals as the days count down until spring training. I threw in some Hot Stove news and Day One of the Caribbean World Series.

Cubs sign Baxter and Pimentel
The Cubs have signed outfielder Mike Baxter and RHP Carlos Pimentel to minor league contracts. Baxter, 30, spent most of ‘14 at AAA Albuquerque (Dodgers), hitting .289/.365/.439 in 119 games. Baxter made the Dodgers opening day roster and traveled with the team to Australia but made just eight plate appearances before being sent to AAA.

Cubs front office is no stranger to Baxter as he was drafted by the Padres in the 4th round in 2005 and made his big league debut in Sept. of 2010, when Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and Director of Scouting and Development Jason McLeod were in San Diego. After six plus years with the Padres, Baxter was claimed off waivers from the Mets and played parts of three seasons before being waived, and claimed by the Dodgers in Oct. of 2013. At age 30, Baxter provides the Cubs with a left-handed outfield bat in Iowa and big league experience (198 games, .225/.331/.342).

Pimentel spent his entire career in the Rangers’ minor league system before the Cubs inked the right-handed last off-season. After being named the Dominican Winter League Pitcher of the Year, Pimentel spent the entire ‘14 season at Iowa and was used as a starter (15 games) and out of the bullpen (14 G). The 25-year-old went 4-9 with a 5.35 ERA in 101 innings for the I-Cubs. With a fastball in the low 90s and a decent slider and change-up, Pimentel provides right-handed depth at Iowa but unlike last year, he’s not a lock to stick around this spring.

Hot Stove News
Former Cubs pitcher Scott Baker has signed a minor league deal with the Yankees. The Cubs signed Baker to a one-year deal in 2013 but he spent most of the year rehabbing in the minors, making three starts in September for Chicago (0-0, 3.60 ERA, 15 IP, 0.87 WHIP.)........John Baker, who spent 2014 with the North Siders, has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners with an invite to spring training......Former Cubs all-star Bryan LaHair has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Red Sox. .......Former Dodgers all-star Chad Billingsley has signed with the Phillies and they designated LHP Cesar Jimenez for assignment........Milwaukee Brewers have signed LH reliever Neal Cotts and designated Elian Herrera for assignment.....Former Iowa Cub J.C. Boscan has signed a minor league deal with the Royals with an invite to spring training..........Dwight Smith Jr., son of Cubs outfielder Dwight Smith, has been invited to the Blue Jays spring training as a non-roster player. Smith, the 53rd overall pick in 2012 played last year at Dunedin in the Florida State League.......Colorado Rockies have inked former Cubs minor league catcher Lance Rymel.

Caribbean World Series
Cuba may have sent a team of all-stars but that didn’t help in their opener against Mexico, falling 2-1 as pinch-hitter Walter Ibarra delivered the game-wining RBI in the bottom of the 7th. Ibarra was signed by the Cubs as a free agent last off-season but was released during spring training and is currently in the D-Backs organization......Venezuela used a three-run third inning to down Puerto Rico 5-2 in the opener for both teams. Javier Baez is not playing for Puerto Rico’s Santurce squad. The Cubs 22-year-old second baseman hit .233/.306/.442 in 11 games at the end of the season and then batted .203/.250/.234 in 15 playoff games. His strikeout problems didn’t improve as he fanned 39 times while walking nine in 120 plate appearances. Cubs hitting coach John Mallee and manager Joe Maddon visited Baez in Puerto Rico.


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