On the heels of Monday's minor league deal with left-hander Blake Weiman, we have ourselves a second addition to the organization's pitching depth, with the Cubs signing a guy who has fought tooth and nail to get back to this point in his career in Sam McWilliams.
McWilliams, who pitched most recently in the Dominican Winter League, was literally out of the game altogether, retiring in 2022 before catching on in Mexico and getting things back on track. According to Ken Rosenthal, the right-hander drew interest from more than one club this winter, with the Cubs landing him on a minor league deal.
From retirement to the big leagues? That's the hope for Sam McWilliams with the Chicago Cubs
An eighth-round pick a decade ago, McWilliams has reached the Triple-A level with three different organizations, but has yet to make his big league debut. Still just 28 years old, if he can parlay what he did in Mexico and the Dominican into results at Iowa this year, perhaps there's a path to an MLB debut this summer - who knows. But at surface level, as was the case with Weiman, this is strictly a depth play by the Cubs.
His body of work at Triple-A is limited and doesn't contain a lot of success, either. In 74 2/3 career frames, McWilliams has a 9.04 ERA, 2.063 WHIP and 12.3 H/9. He's been more effective at the lower levels of the minors, but really this is about seeing if he can turn the changes he made since his comeback out of retirement into meaningful results against big league hitters.
The Cubs bullpen looks to be largely complete with the signing of Hector Neris over the weekend, but Jed Hoyer has made a living out of these sorts of depth signings that, hey, sometimes turn into something. There's little to no risk here - and, hey, who doesn't love to root for a comeback story?