Could backup catcher be key to Cubs’ pursuit of Darvish? Makes Yu wonder …

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New Cubs catcher Chris Gimenez, left, with new Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish in 2014.

The Cubs agreed to terms with a backup catcher on a minor-league contract, and all of a sudden a slumbering offseason seemed to come to life.

Is Chris Gimenez a 35-year-old, .218-hitting prelude to Yu Darvish?

Not necessarily.

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But the agreement with Darvish’s onetime personal catcher in recent days surfaced Monday, about the same time fresh rumors surrounding the free-agent pitcher began swirling — and fueled a social media ministorm.

One report originating in Japan said the Brewers have made an offer to Darvish, who already was linked the last two months to the Cubs, Twins, Rangers, Astros, Yankees and Dodgers (the Astros, at least, are now out of the mix after trading for Gerrit Cole this month).

Another report said that “at least” one team had offered a five-year contract to Darvish, a rarity so far in the most dormant free-agent market in recent memory, in which the greatest length for a pitching contract has been three years.

Gotta be the Cubs, right? A report by the Associated Press late Monday even said the Cubs were in “active talks” with Darvish.

After all, Gimenez was Darvish’s personal catcher for a stretch of 12 of 13 starts with the Rangers in 2014.

Darvish was 6-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 79⅓ innings and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings throwing to Gimenez during one of four All-Star seasons.

They didn’t play together before that or after, but they evidently remained close after Gimenez was sold to the Indians that summer.

Now that Gimenez is a Cub?

The implication seems obvious.

Except this isn’t anything close to a Jon Lester-David Ross connection.

The Cubs considered the Darvish connection in their talks with Gimenez. But Gimenez is a highly regarded backup. Two of his five big-league teams brought him back for second stints. The Indians acquired him three times (he was on the bench for the 2016 World Series against the Cubs).

And catching depth is an area of sore need for the Cubs after the free-agent departures of Rene Rivera and Alex Avila. A signing like this gives the Cubs more experience behind the plate.

Gimenez also has relationships with several people in the Cubs’ organization.

Newly hired Class A manager Steve Lerud is a good friend from Reno, Nevada, where they’re partners in a baseball camp. And manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey had Gimenez in 2012 and 2013 with the Rays, with whom Gimenez caught Alex Cobb for three starts (1.89 ERA).

Wait a minute. Alex Cobb?

Follow me on Twitter@GDubCub.


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