7 years ago today, the Chicago Cubs brought in David Ross

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

December 2014 was the month the Chicago Cubs took massive strides toward contention. They had already hired Joe Maddon from the Tampa Bay Rays as the World Series was winding down, but December was when they made the big deal to bring in free agent pitcher Jon Lester on a six-year deal. Hard to believe it has already been seven years since that massive offseason.

This week is the seven-year anniversary of another notable signing, on December 19, 2014 it was reported that the Cubs were bringing in veteran catcher David Ross. The deal became official a few days later. “Oh cool, the Cubs are getting Lester’s personal catcher from Boston.” That was really the most that was made of the deal, did not seem overly huge at the time. It ended up being pretty significant.

Chicago Cubs: The Davis Ross signing ended up being bigger than we thought

Ross was 37 going on 38 when he came to Chicago prior to the 2015 season. He was seen as nothing more than the third-string catcher who would play mostly with Lester on the mound. Ross had an overall nice career with the Dodgers, Reds, Padres, Pirates, Braves and Red Sox, but the offense was slipping in recent years. He had hit just .197/.276/.374 in 2013-2014 with the Red Sox, but he was part of the 2013 World Championship team and Lester worked very well with him.

One could say “Grandpa Rossy” was not seen much more than a backup catcher in his first season as a Cub in 2015. He played in 72 games and hit just .176/.267/.252 with one home run and was a 0.3 fWAR player. Lester pitched to a 3.28 ERA in 184 innings with Ross, so he continued to work well as a personal catcher.

It was his second and final year of his deal in 2016 when Ross made his mark in Cubs history. His vocal leadership in the clubhouse was being well advertised and it was clear the players looked up to him. Anthony Rizzo was “like a brother” to him as he said in his tear-filled World Series rally speech. When the Cubs were down 3-1 in the World Series, it was said that Ross told the team to not hang their heads.

Ross also played pretty well for a 39-year-old catcher in 2016. He slashed .229/.338/.446 with 10 home runs, 101 wRC+, career-high 12 defensive runs saved (DRS) and 1.9 fWAR in 67 games. His 10 home runs marked his first double-digit home run season since 2007. All of this was capped off by his heroic home run off Andrew Miller in Game 7 of the World Series. He was carried off the field by his teammates.

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There probably were not a lot of people who thought in December 2014 that the Cubs were getting a World Series hero and future manager in Ross. While the jury might still be out on him as a manager, what he did as a player is cemented in history – despite the fact he was not a superstar or even an everyday player.