First, it was Corey Koskie. Now, it’s Esteban German. The Cubs signed veteran infielder German to a minor-league contract today and invited him to spring training as a nonroster man. A couple weeks ago, they signed third baseman Koskie to a minor-league deal, and they’ll get a good look at him now that Canada is out of the World Baseball Classic.
German, 31, batted .245/.303/.338 last year in 89 games with the Royals. Those numbers are hardly spectacular, but the Cubs got him for his defense and for inventory purposes in the infield.
“We’re happy,” GM Jim Hendry told me by phone. “We liked him in the past. One he was designated (for assignment) and cleared (waivers), we figured why not. He’ll be in the mix at camp and be part of the inventory.”
German, who came to the big leagues in 2002 with Oakland, probably will begin the season at Iowa. He can play all the infield positions, but he has seen the most time at third base. With Ronny Cedeno having been traded to Seattle, the Cubs were looking to add depth to their middle infield and to have another possible backup to Aramis Ramirez at third base. Mike Fontenot looks to have the second-base job all but won, with Aaron Miles slated to back up Fontenot as well as shortstop Ryan Theriot and Ramirez. German has a lifetime batting average of .277 and an OBP of .358.
“There are a lot of defensive ways we can go,” Hendry said.
The Cubs also sent five players to the minor-league camp. Outfielder Richie Robnett was optioned to Iowa. Pitcher and local boy Brian Schlitter was sent back to minor-league camp as were fellow nonroster pitchers J.R. Mathes and Matt Smith and catcher Steve Clevenger.