To add depth within the infield, the Chicago Cubs signed Cristhian Adames to a minor league deal this offseason. Surprisingly, the journeyman has been quietly turning heads in camp.
Over a decade ago, in 2007, the Colorado Rockies signed Cristhian Adames as a non-drafted free agent. Working his way through Colorado’s system, it would take until 2014 for Adames to make his major league debut.
After spending much of his career to this point in the thin mile high air, the Rockies officially designated Adames for assignment at the end of 2017. It was then Adames caught on with the Miami Marlins, whom he would spend just one season in their system with before electing free agency this past offseason.
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At the tail end of January, the Chicago Cubs decided to bring the 27-year-old shortstop in on a minor league deal. The offer includes an invite to spring training. Adames has undoubtedly taken his opportunity and has run with it this spring in his bid to force the Cubs’ hand in earning a roster spot for Opening Day.
Struggling to find a rhythm
Adames made his major league debut for the Rockies in the middle of the 2014 regular season. The first stint of his at the big league level was quick, as Adames saw just 15 total plate appearances across six games of action. He struck out at a 33.3% clip, slashing a porous .067/.067/.067 with a .133 OPS. Indeed not the debut Adames envisioned for himself.
In late 2015, following an Achilles injury to then shortstop Jose Reyes, Adames received a second call-up. Impressively, Adames slashed .391/.440/.435 with a .388 wOBA and 133 wRC+ in his first ten games of action after the promotion before falling off to finish .245/.298/.302.
Disappointingly, that production plateau would not be reached again. Adames was nothing special in 2016-17 for Colorado, registering a paltry 44 wRC+ and slashing just .206/.292/.286 before the team released him.
Last year, Adames spent the year with the New Orleans Babycakes, the Triple-A affiliate for the Miami Marlins. He slashed a respectable .269/.324/.370 with seven home runs and 57 RBI. The emboldened veteran is now in Chicago looking to find redemption.
Change of scenery
In Sunday’s spring drubbing of the Southside Chicago White Sox, Adames finished his day 2-2, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI to bring his camp average to .471 through his first 19 plate appearances. Adames has also posted a ridiculous 1.180 OPS.
The home run was Adames’ first of the spring and came off veteran reliever and newest White Sox addition Kelvin Herrera. In a game versus the Texas Rangers last week, Adames went 2-2, 2 R, 1 RBI, doubling off former Cub Jesse Chavez.
Spring training is an interesting time of year because statistics, and expectations, become inflated. It gives way to the notion a player can continue to produce when the regular season rolls around. While Adames perfectly fits that profile for the Cubs, producing versus notable names is a positive sign.
Is there a chance Adames breaks camp with the Cubs? Possibly. If he can continue to produce at this torrid pace, it would be difficult for the club to send him down. With Adames, the possibilities are endless.
He possesses viable experience at second base, third base, and shortstop and could spell Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist, giving them more off-days to keep the two fresh throughout the season. Adames is also a switch-hitter, giving more flexibility for Joe Maddon in the lineup.
The hope is Adames can continue to produce and figure out a way to put it all together. There is little to no expectation, and thankfully the team is in a position on the depth chart where they don’t need to rely on him every day. Nonetheless, it would be a pleasant surprise.