The Chicago Cubs are looking to make a playoff push and have signed a couple of speedy players to help with that. Emilio Bonifacio returns to the Cubs after spending the first half of last season with the team before being traded to the Atlanta Braves on July 31st 2014. The Cubs also signed Quintin Berry.
Both players were signed to minor league contracts and will report to Triple-A Iowa. They will be used as pinch hitters and pinch runners and should be called up when the MLB rosters expand to 40 on September 1st. It never hurts to add speed, especially in the postseason.
Berry is 30 years old and this season while at Triple-A Pawtucket, he had 35 stolen bases in 106 games. Back in 2012, with the Detroit Tigers, Berry stole 21 bases, but he has only played in just 23 major league games since 2013.
This season with the Chicago White Sox, Bonifacio (also 30 years old) was only hitting .679 in 47 games. This was the reason why the White Sox released him on August 18th. Bonifacio will be looking to get back to hitting like he did last season with the Cubs. In 69 games, Bonifacio hit .279 with a .318 batting average and 14 stolen bases.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon is a fan of having speed on his roster, stating: “It’s something I have had the privilege of having when I managed the Rays and you’ve seen more recently what the [Kansas City] Royals have been able to do.” He added, “Speed plays, when you have the expanded rosters you can really be specific what you’re looking for.”
It will be interesting if one or both make the September call up to the majors. The expanded roster could also include a call up for Javy Baez from Triple-A. After struggling in his first stint in the majors, he has had a nice rebound year for the Iowa Cubs. He currently has a batting average of .319 to go along with 13 home runs. The main thing is Baez has cut down his strikeouts, with just 72 strikeouts in 270 plate appearances.