Chicago Cubs sign right-hander George Kontos to minor league deal

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs add a potential piece to their bullpen as they ink George Kontos to a minor league deal. Kontos has bounced around the past few years but has had previous success in bigs.

670 the Score’s Bruce Levine reports the Chicago Cubs have signed veteran right-hander George Kontos to a minor league deal. Kontos, 33, spent last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees organizations after playing most of his career with the San Francisco Giants.

This move goes along with the typical Theo Epstein way of building bullpen depth. In recent years, he’s been all about a few big splashes and a lot of waiver claims and minor league deals. It is a low-risk, high-reward acquisition. Kontos has an invite to major league camp in Arizona so he will compete for a spot against other guys on the current 40-man.

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It was a wild 2018 season seeing him pitch between the minors and majors and spending it with three organizations. His 2018 saw his velocity drop a bit and post a career-worst 5.60 FIP in 26 2/3 innings in the majors.

He put up a cumulative 1.85 ERA and 1.1 WHIP in 24 1/3 frames when pitching for the Yankees’ and Indians’ Triple-A teams. According to Levine, the righty is working on regaining velocity he’s lost in recent years.

Before 2017, he had a solid career in San Francisco. His overall career numbers include a 3.10 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 7.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 across 357 innings.

Kontos does not post big strikeout numbers, but he found ways to be effective without it. His career contact rates include a 43.7 percent ground ball rate, 35.3 percent flyball and 21 percent line drive. Those are all around league average.

Kontos seems likely to join the likes of the organization’s burgeoning minor league pitching depth. At the big league level, the Cubs are very right-handed heavy.

Right now, the pen projects with the likes of Steve Cishek, the recently-added Brad Brach, Pedro Strop, Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Kintzler and Carl Edwards Jr. That’s not to mention closer Brandon Morrow, who will miss the first month of the season as he recovers from elbow surgery.

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Kontos will have to make an impression in Spring Training. Coaches will likely keep a very close eye on his velocity. He can either work out as another low-risk, high reward signing…or he will be cut. At most he will be decent depth, not someone to be a back-end guy. Regardless nothing will be lost in the end.