Chicago Cubs: Tazawa trying to make the big league club on a minor league deal
Junichi Tazawa and George Kontos were also part of the front office’s low-cost, high-volume approach this offseason. Unlike Barnette and Cedeno, Tazawa and Kontos signed minor league deals. That means that they are not currently occupying a spot on the 40-man and could conceivably begin the year at Triple-A Iowa.
However, their contracts may have clauses in them that allow them to become free agents if they don’t make the team out of spring training or if they aren’t called up by a specific date. Gimenez’s contract had such a clause last year.
Tazawa was signed by the Red Sox when Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were running Boston’s front office. He spent most of his MLB career playing for Boston. But in the last couple of years, he also played for the Marlins and the Dodgers. Kontos also spent most of his career with one team (Giants) and more recently bounced around (Pirates, Indians, Yankees).
Tazawa had a 7.07 ERA and a 6.13 FIP in 28 innings last year. Kontos pitched better. He had a 4.39 ERA and a 5.60 FIP in 26 2/3 innings last year.
I’m not excited about either one of these pitchers. If they pitch for the Cubs this season, it will mean that the guys with the guaranteed contracts either weren’t getting the job done or are injured. It will also mean that the front office has more faith in Tazawa and/or Kontos than they have in younger guys with more upside.