Cubs Sign RP George Kontos, Best Known for Allowing Playoff HR to Travis Wood

As first reported by Bruce Levine, the Cubs have agreed to a minor league deal with 33-year-old righty reliever George Kontos. Born in Lincolnwood, Kontos attended Niles West High School in Skokie and played his college ball at Northwestern, so there are some pretty strong regional ties. Hometown discount, amirite?

Kontos spent parts of six seasons in the Yankees system before his MLB debut in 2011, then was traded to the Giants prior to the 2012 season. He spent most of the next six seasons with the Giants, frequently bouncing between Triple-A and San Francisco. He did get quite a bit of MLB run, though, logging 52 appearances in 2013, 73 in 2015, and 57 in 2016.

He made 50 more appearances for the Giants in 2017 before being placed on waivers, after which he caught on with the Pirates for 15 more games to close the season. Kontos split time between the Pirates, Indians, and Yankees in 2018, pitching in only 26 games between additional Triple-A stints. Once capable of touching mid-90’s with a 92 mph average, Kontos’ fastball was only around 90 and his strikeouts were down considerably.

It all could have been over at that point, since there’s not much of a market for a righty reliever with flagging velo and a K/BB ratio not much higher than 2.0. Seeking another run at it, Kontos enlisted the help of Kyle Boddy and Driveline Baseball in Kent, WA. Their revolutionary training techniques added three ticks to the righty’s fastball, which could mean he’s throwing harder than ever.

Because it’s just a minor league deal, the Cubs have virtually no risk with this signing and can easily afford to see if Kontos really has found the fountain of youth. And if he’s able to get anywhere hear his prime form of around 9 K/9 and less than 3 BB/9, well, that’d be a pretty nice little surprise.

But let’s not go looking at this as anything other than your prototypical depth move for a guy who’s bounced around and is a pretty long shot to make the 25-man roster. Even if I think there could be enough gas in the tank for Kontos to make a little noise, I’m not going to bother putting in the earplugs just yet.

Besides, it’d be kinda nice for this to be my lasting memory of him…

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