Cubs reunite with reliever Jesse Chavez, agree to minor-league deal

Chavez spent a half-season with the Cubs in 2018, posting a 1.15 ERA.

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The Cubs and relief pitcher Jesse Chavez are reuniting, after they agreed to a minor-league deal.

The Cubs and relief pitcher Jesse Chavez are reuniting, after they agreed to a minor-league deal. File photo.

Paul Sancya, AP Photos

MESA, Ariz. — A reunion is here for the Cubs and reliever Jesse Chavez.

Chavez agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. He joined the Cubs at their Sloan Park complex Sunday.

‘‘This [club’s] always been there, it’s always been on the table,’’ Chavez said after greeting some friends and teammates. ‘‘And I’ve just had to take it. I felt it was the right time for me and my family to choose this place and see what happens after this.’’

Chavez, 38, spent a half-season with the Cubs in 2018, posting a 1.15 ERA. His tenure with them included a 1-2-3 inning in a 2-1 wild-card loss to the Rockies.

He returned to the Rangers in free agency, and his ERA ballooned to 4.85 and 6.88 the next couple of seasons. In 2021, he began the year in Triple-A with the Braves but went on to put together one of the best seasons of his career after being called up in June.

In 30 regular-season games last season, Chavez had a 2.14 ERA. Then on the Braves’ path to a World Series title, Chavez appeared in seven playoff games, allowing no runs in 6⅓ innings.

Chavez joins Cubs spring training with an opportunity to win a roster spot. The Cubs’ bullpen is in need of depth, especially after reliever Codi Heuer underwent Tommy John surgery last week, and a veteran presence. Chavez could add both.

‘‘Treat everyone as an individual, and you’ll go from there and [bring] the best out of them,’’ Chavez said, adding he had learned that from Cubs manager David Ross when their playing careers overlapped with the Braves in 2010. ‘‘So that’s all I’m gonna try to do and take what I’ve learned throughout the years and try and help these young guys to where they can have a long, successful career.’’

Despite the Cubs’ trade-deadline sell-off last summer, Chavez said that what drew him to the team was ‘‘the chance to win.’’

Middle-infield connection

Long before the Cubs agreed to a one-year deal with shortstop Andrelton Simmons, second baseman Nick Madrigal was keeping an eye on him.

‘‘I’ve watched him for years before I got into pro ball,’’ said Madrigal, 25. ‘‘He’s known as a great defensive guy, so I’m excited to pick his brain a little bit, ask him questions. It’s definitely a great pickup for the team.’’

In addition to being a veteran resource for fellow middle infielders Madrigal and Nico Hoerner, Simmons can lighten the load after both missed time last season with injuries.

Hoerner made three trips to the injured list for different health issues, and Madrigal suffered a season-ending torn right hamstring in June. He said he has been without restrictions for more than a month.

‘‘I’m at a point where I almost forget which leg it is,’’ Madrigal said. ‘‘So it’s feeling great.’’

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