The Cubs have a lot of work left to do over the next few weeks in their efforts to add bullpen help to a club that remains in first place despite blowing half of its save opportunities.
But in the meantime, they added an intriguing bat on a low-risk deal that in a best-case scenario might help offset the indefinite absence of Ben Zobrist.
The Cubs signed former All-Star slugger Carlos Gonzalez to a minor-league contract. Gonzalez, who was released by the Indians, is expected to make a brief stop with Class AAA Iowa. He might be added to the roster in time to face the right-handed Cardinals this weekend in St. Louis.
The left-handed Gonzalez, 33, then would face his longtime team, the Rockies, during the homestand next week. He was a three-time All-Star with them.
Gonzalez struggled with the Indians, hitting just .210 with two homers in 30 games, but he’s a career .298 hitter against right-handers (.899 OPS) and represents a low-risk, high-potential roll of the dice as a lefty platoon/bench option.
Since Gonzalez cleared waivers, the Cubs will pay only the prorated minimum salary when he joins the big-league roster.
Like Zobrist, Gonzalez has a reputation as a respected teammate with a strong clubhouse presence and a strong veteran approach at the plate.
The three-time All-Star, who had a .796 OPS for the Rockies in 504 plate appearances last year, is expected to replace Jim Adduci on the roster and reduce the Cubs’ temptation to rush Ian Happ back from Iowa, where he continues to work on his swing.