Cubs Have Reportedly Signed Righty Reliever Joe Biagini to Minors Deal

According to Arizona Phil of The Cub Reporter, the Cubs have signed righty reliever Joe Biagini to a minor league deal. In the event that he is added to the 40-man roster at some point in 2021, Biagini is out of options and would have to be exposed to waivers. That might not seem like much of an issue coming off of a disastrous 2020 effort that, while very abbreviated, did nothing to counter very mediocre results from the previous three seasons.

The 30-year-old Biagini was taken by the Giants in the 26th round of the 2011 draft out of the College of San Mateo, then was plucked away by the Blue Jays in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. He pitched very well in his debut season of 2016, posting a 3.06 ERA over 67.1 innings in 60 appearances, then moved into a swingman role the following year. The results weren’t as good over 44 appearances (18 starts), perhaps due to the increased workload.

His performance dipped again in 2018, then he recovered a little in 2019 before once again struggling following a trade to the Astros. Biagini had issues with his command and surrendered six home runs while walking nine and striking out 10 over 14.2 innings. We won’t even bother looking at 2020 because it really isn’t worthwhile. Suffice to say it was really bad.

As with any of the other minors deals the Cubs have inked this winter and in the past, this one is all about upside. Biagini’s velocity appears to have fallen off a little bit, but much of that may be due to getting away from the four-seam fastball in favor of a huge increase in sinkers. Again, we’re talking about a very limited sample. His curve actually graded out pretty well and has been one of his top secondaries, so perhaps there are ways to leverage that.

The Cubs surely want to get him into the pitch lab to see what’s happening with some of his pitches, particularly the sinker that hasn’t been working well. Bryan Smith of Bleacher Nation mentioned that it’s got a low spin rate, which can actually be a good thing when thrown properly, which is a big part of Kyle Hendricks‘ success. Really no reason to get excited here, but who knows.

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