The Chicago Cubs took a flyer on veteran infielder Chad Tracy, signing him to a minor league contract with a chance to compete for the Cubs Opening Day roster. If Tracy makes the MLB Cubs roster, he will earn $900,000 during the 2010 MLB season. He will also earn a $525,000 bonus if he reaches the 450 at-bat plateau.
Tracy has been hampered by injuries each of the last 3 major league baseball seasons. He has not played more than 100 games since the 2006 MLB schedule. In 2009, Tracy played in 98 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks, hitting .237 with just 8 HR’s and 39 RBI’s. His best season was the 2005 MLB campaign when he slugged 27 HR’s, scored 73 runs and drove in 72 runs. Tracy hit .305 with a .359 on-base percentage that season. Since then, however, he has not lived up to the expectations that he created with that big year.
Tracy does have a few positives – he can play both 1st base and 3rd base, so he could back up both Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez should either of them get hurt or if they need a day off here or there. Tracy is also a career 2.97 hitter against right-handed pitching, so he will give Micah Hoffpauir a run for his money as the Cubs left-handed hitting option off the bench. Hoffpauir started off the season as a productive role player for the Cubs in 2009, but his numbers tailed off dramatically as the season progressed – .239 batting average, .300 on-base percentage, 10 HR’s, 35 RBI’s, 28 runs scored in 234 at-bats in 105 games.
Seems like a wise move by GM Jim Hendry – yep, you heard me right – a wise move – for once. Hoffpauir clearly struggled down the stretch, so the Cubs realize his limitations. Tracy is a good, cheap player. Not having to play everyday could save him from the nagging injuries that he suffered as a starter. Unless he totally craps the bed during Spring Training, I see Tracy beating out Hoffpauir for the Cubs lefty role player heading into the 2010 MLB schedule. And at $900,000, that is a major bargain for someone of his caliber.