Chicago Cubs

Cubs' Chris Gimenez signing not necessarily tied to Yu Darvish

Dundee-Crown grad Ryan Court among nonroster spring invitees

Minnesota Twins catcher Chris Gimenez stands on the field while his team takes batting practice for the American League wild-card game against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. The Cubs recently signed Gimenez to a minor league deal. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Minnesota Twins catcher Chris Gimenez stands on the field while his team takes batting practice for the American League wild-card game against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in New York. The Cubs recently signed Gimenez to a minor league deal. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A few days ago, social media was all atwitter over news that catcher Chris Gimenez had signed a minor league deal with the Cubs and snagged an invite to big-league spring training.

Because Gimenez caught 12 games pitched by Yu Darvish with Texas, many put 2 and 2 together and came up with much more than 4.

The Cubs may indeed sign Darvish to a big free-agent contract before the 2018 baseball season starts, but they were going to add veteran catchers anyway, and Gimenez happens to be one of them.

On Thursday, Cubs officials announced they have invited 19 nonroster players to spring training. Pitchers and catchers hold their first formal workouts Feb. 14, with position players working out Feb. 19.

Gimenez, 35, has nine years of major league experience. He spent part of 2014 and all of 2015 with the Texas Rangers as a teammate of Darvish. He also has played for Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay (for current Cubs manager Joe Maddon) and Minnesota. He has a lifetime hitting line of .218/.309/.345 with 22 homers.

In 74 games with the Twins last season, Gimenez had a .350 on-base percentage.

The Cubs’ No. 1 catcher is Willson Contreras. Victor Caratini, who played in 31 games for the Cubs last year, also is on the major league roster, but the Cubs may prefer a veteran backup to Contreras while allowing Caratini to get more seasoning at Triple-A Iowa.
Taylor Davis, who appeared in eight games for the Cubs in 2017, is another nonroster catcher, along with Ian Rice and Ali Solis, who has big-league experience with the Padres in 2012 and with the Rays in 2014.

There is some local flavor to the Cubs’ list of nonroster invitees. Infielder Ryan Court, a Dundee-Crown graduate, will be among those in big-league camp. Court, 29, attended Illinois State University and was a 23rd-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011. Last year at Boston’s Triple-A Pawtucket club, he went .263/.347/.410 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs.

The Cubs will welcome outfielder Jacob Hannemann back to spring training. A third-round pick of the Cubs in 2013, Hannemann was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners in September. He went 3 for 20 with a homer for the Mariners and was claimed right back off waivers by the Cubs later that month.

Infielder Mike Freeman, who played in 19 games for the Cubs last year, also is among the nonroster invitees.

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