The Cubs have agreed to sign Andy Sonnanstine to a non-guaranteed split contract for the 2012 season, the team announced. The Rays non-tendered the Beverly Hills Sports Council client earlier this month rather than give him a raise his second time through arbitration.
Sonnanstine, 29 in March, has worked mostly in relief over the last two seasons, pitching to a 4.78 ERA in 116 2/3 innings. He's made 80 starts and 52 relief appearances during his five seasons with Tampa, though his career strikeout (5.7 K/9) and walk (2.3 BB/9) rates are identical in the two roles. Sonnanstine is a fly ball pitcher and is very homer prone (career 1.3 HR/9), though his ERA is a full run lower when coming out of the bullpen (5.43 vs. 4.40).
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein recently said the team's goal is to "build more depth on the starting pitching front, both in the big leagues and minor leagues," and Sonnanstine helps them accomplish that. He becomes the second pitcher the Cubbies have acquired in the last week, joining Travis Wood (acquired in the Sean Marshall trade). Chicago can retain Sonnanstine as an arbitration-eligible player in 2013.