The Cubs signed infielder Robel García to a minor league contract over the weekend, according to the transactions tracker at MLB.com. The switch-hitting infielder returns to the organization with which he began his MLB career.
García broke into pro ball with the Indians in 2010 but didn’t advance past Low-A in three-plus years in the system. He was out of affiliated ball entirely for some time, but García posted big numbers playing professionally in Italy between 2017-18. The Cubs were intrigued and brought him back to the affiliated ranks on a minors pact over the 2018-19 offseason.
Upon stepping into the high minors in the system, García picked up where he’d left off in Italy. He tore the cover off the ball for a month in Double-A, then hit .281/.361/.585 with 21 home runs over 296 plate appearances at Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs selected him to make his major league debut that July, and he appeared in 31 games. The Dominica Republic native hit five homers in 80 plate appearances, but he also struck out 35 times while drawing just seven walks.
Chicago waived García the following July, and he was claimed by the division-rival Reds. After spending the 2020 season at Cincinnati’s alternate training site, he bounced around the waiver wire from the Mets to the Angels to the Astros. García stuck in Houston for the bulk of last year, tallying a personal-high 117 plate appearances over 47 games. He hit only .151/.216/.208 with one homer in that time, though, and he struggled to a .162/.272/.368 mark over 32 games with Triple-A Sugar Land.
The Astros designated García for assignment and outrighted him off their 40-man roster last September. He elected minor league free agency and now returns to the place where he began the second act of his career. Swing-and-miss has been a clear problem for García, who has punched out in 33.1% of his Triple-A plate appearances and nearly 40% of his big league trips to the dish. Yet he’s capable of playing anywhere on the infield and has flashed some power potential in the past. The Cubs will take add him back to the organization, although it might be hard for García to crack an Opening Day infield mix that figures to include Andrelton Simmons, Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal, Jonathan Villar and Patrick Wisdom.