The Cubs have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with reliever Eric Stout, MLBTR has learned. He’ll receive an invitation to big league Spring Training.
It’s the second straight offseason in which the Chicago-area native has landed with the Cubs on a non-roster deal. He spent the first couple months of this past season in Triple-A Iowa, working to a 3.94 ERA in 29 2/3 innings to earn a big league call in mid-June. That marked his first MLB look since a three-game stint with the 2018 Royals, which had been his only work at that level before this year.
Stout, 29, pitched twice for the Cubs, allowing two runs in 3 2/3 innings. He was designated for assignment within a few days, but his quality Triple-A work was enough to catch the attention of the Pirates. Pittsburgh sent cash to their division rivals to bring him in, and Stout spent the remainder of the season bouncing on and off the active roster. The southpaw worked 18 2/3 MLB innings for the Bucs, allowing 13 runs (12 earned). His 20% strikeout rate was a hair below average, while he walked an elevated 15.8% of batters faced.
At season’s end, Pittsburgh outrighted Stout off their 40-man roster. He declined a minor league assignment and hit free agency, positioning him to head back to Chicago for a second stint. Stout’s coming off a combined 2.93 ERA showing in 43 innings of Triple-A work with an excellent 33.7% strikeout percentage but an alarming 15.5% walk rate.
Brandon Hughes is the only left-handed reliever who currently occupies a spot on Chicago’s 40-man roster. Adding some depth is thus a reasonable offseason target for president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and his group, and they’ll start with another look at Stout. They’ll probably at least bring in another arm or two on a non-roster deal, and it stands to reason they could look into candidates for a big league contract like Andrew Chafin or Matt Moore as well. Stout still has a minor league option year remaining, so if he cracks the 40-man roster at any point, the Cubs can move him between Chicago and Iowa without putting him on waivers.
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