The Rundown: Cubs Sign Daniel Bard to Minor-League Deal, Baez Will Have to Earn Playing Time, Convention News Wrap-up

A somewhat familiar face is returning to the Cubs organization.

The Cubs have signed RHP Daniel Bard to a minor-league deal. Bard was claimed by the Cubs in September 2013 but didn’t appear in a game, and he was let go that winter.

The pitcher had some dominating seasons in 2010 and 2011 as a reliever in Boston. But he struggled with the Red Sox when they tried to convert him to a starter, and then he was bit by the injury bug.

He hasn’t pitched in the majors in almost two years.

This move seems like it’s worth a shot. The Cubs front office is familiar with Bard from his Boston days, and they probably feel there’s a chance he could recapture some the magic. If not, the Cubs aren’t risking much.

Patrick Mooney writes that he will be reunited with Triple-A Iowa pitching coach Mike Cather, who worked with Bard back in his Boston days. Who knows, maybe Cather will be able to make things click for Bard once again.

Baez will have to earn playing time

Just because he has been one of the Cubs’ top prospects over the past couple of years doesn’t mean Javier Baez can be penciled in every day in the major league lineup every day next season.

Jed Hoyer said at the Cubs Convention this weekend that Baez will have to earn his playing time, writes Gordon Wittenmyer. “He’s got a new manager and some new coaches to impress.”

It sounds like this will be the case for all young players coming up to the big leagues, according to new manager Joe Maddon. “I do not like the entitlement program whatsoever,” Maddon said at the convention. “We talk about young players, and I’m excited about them, and you should be also. But there’s also the accountability factor.”

We probably wouldn’t be questioning Baez’s role with the Cubs had he performed better after his call-up last season. But the young infielder hit only .169/.227/.324 in 52 games.

Hopefully new hitting coach John Mallee will be able to straighten things out for Baez.

However, the Cubs do have other options at second base. They acquired Tommy La Stella in a trade with the Braves early this offseason, and Luis Valbuena and Arismendy Alcantara can play second as well.

Convention wrap-up

A lot of news came out of the Cubs Convention, understandably. Here’s a rundown within The Rundown on what was said this weekend, via the Twitters:

At this point, I could see the Cubs holding on to Castillo through Spring Training and if another team’s catcher suffers an injury, that team may want someone like Castillo.

Grumble … well, OK. Maybe it won’t be so bad to have the song with the team winning more.

Signed out of Cuba a couple years ago, Rivero (26) has had a solid minor-league career with the Cubs so far.

Torres will be a guy to pay attention to this season.

Scherzer to Nationals

The Nationals have agreed to a seven-year deal with free-agent ace Max Scherzer, according to Jon Heyman. Let’s just be glad the Cubs aren’t in the National League East.

The Nationals’ rotation: Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez. Dang.

Zimmermann’s name has been thrown out there in trade rumors (including that fun hour earlier this offseason where it sounded like he could go to the Cubs), but it’s possible Washington keeps all of these players. That would be one heck of a starting staff.

Other notes

* In an article pondering when the Cubs could start cashing in prospects as trade bait, Patrick Mooney mentions that Dexter Fowler and Charlie Blackmon could be on the move from their respective teams. (And the Cubs are looking for one more outfielder.) Of the two, I’d probably rather have Fowler.

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