The Chicago Cubs must have a great deal of confidence in their medical staff because they continue to bring in players with injury-ridden pasts or, as in the case of new Cub Carlos Gutierrez, injury-ridden presents.
Gutierrez was claimed off of waivers by the Cubs from the Minnesota Twins. In the last five minor league seasons, Gutierrez went 15-20 with a 4.11 ERA. Last season, he made 10 appearances with the Twins' Triple-A affiliate going 2-2 with a 5.06 ERA. However, after those appearances, Gutierrez had right shoulder surgery that ended his season. He just recently started throwing again earlier this month.
Gutierrez is not the first injured player the Cubs have brought in. During their trade with the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs traded for Arodys Vizcaino who is still coming back from Tommy John surgery. While he is expected to be ready for Spring Training, it's a major risk to be trading for players who already have something they have to overcome before they even take the field.
Of course, there is some logic in this approach. I've heard a lot of disgust that Theo Epstein and company are going after many of these players with injury concerns. While I'll admit to holding my breath a little on acquisitions like these, it can help the rebuilding process quite a bit. It's no secret the Cubs are still a ways from having the personnel they want. In light of that, I expect 2013 to be another year similar to 2012. They will be trying as many players as they can to see what they have. For that to work, you have to have a number of players you feel are even worth trying out.
The Cubs have very little trade bait. Due to that they have to maximize their returns for the little bait they do have. Being willing to trade for players with concerns --like injury-- makes you able to go a little higher on the talent ladder. Fans' concerns that these injuries will be a problem could absolutely be right. However, if they turn out not to be, then the Cubs are getting great deals for these players. Gutierrez is a little different given they claimed him off of waivers, but players like Vizcaino will fit this example directly.
It also explains why the Cubs are willing to give these players a shot. When you lose 101 games, haven't won a World Series for 104 years, and are in the middle of rebuilding, why would you not give them that chance?
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.