Cubs Reportedly Signing LHP Thomas Pannone to Minors Deal with Camp Invite

Per FanSided’s Robert Murray on The Baseball Insiders podcast, the Cubs are signing lefty Thomas Pannone to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. The 29-year-old southpaw has bounced around quite a bit over his 11-year professional career, appearing most recently with the Brewers following stints with four other big league organizations and the Kia Tigers of the KBO. He has a career 5.46 ERA over 50 total MLB games (13 starts) and has struck out 102 batters with 47 walks and 20 homers allowed over 118.2 innings.

A cutter specialist who goes to his tight breaker about half the time, Pannone has never averaged even 90 mph on his four-seam fastball. Though he doesn’t generate many grounders, doesn’t miss bats at an extraordinary rate, and doesn’t possess big velo, the Cubs have had their eyes on him for quite a long time. They actually drafted him out of Bishop Hendricken High School in Rhode Island back in 2012, but he opted to attend the College of Southern Nevada and was later selected by Cleveland in the ninth round one year later.

Pannone spent the better part of five years in that system before a trade sent him to the Blue Jays as part of the return for Joe Smith. Most of Pannone’s big league experience came with Toronto and he even authored an immaculate inning on April 14, 2019. He probably would have gotten even more experience in the 2018 season, but an 80-game suspension for a positive dehydrochlormethyltestosterone test kept him out until August.

It must not have helped too much since his heater registered a career-low 88.1 mph that season.

I don’t know whether Pannone has been working with Tread or Driveline or anything over the offseason, and I’m not sure he’d be able to gain enough mustard that way in any case, but maybe the Cubs see something here. Even if nothing has changed, there’s no risk to this move other than pissing off people who will see it as another example of Jed Hoyer going the cheap route to build depth.

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