The White Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with left-hander Cory Luebke, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). Eddy also notes that the Sox have a minors deal with catcher Carson Blair and have re-signed fleet-footed outfielder Jason Bourgeois.
The 31-year-old Luebke has undergone two Tommy John surgeries in the past half-decade but made his first big league appearance since 2012 this past season. Luebke broke camp with the Pirates after signing a minor league deal with Pittsburgh last winter, though he didn’t fare well in his return to a Major League mound. Luebke tossed just 8 2/3 innings with Pittsburgh and yielded nine runs on 15 hits and 11 walks with nine strikeouts. He did fare better in 24 1/3 minor league innings, tallying a 1.85 ERA and a 35-to-3 K/BB ratio between the Pirates and Marlins organizations.
Luebke once looked like a potential long-term cog in the Padres’ rotation, debuting with the team in 2010 and seemingly blossoming a year later. The southpaw turned in 139 2/3 innings of 3.29 ERA ball with 9.9 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 2011, which earned him a four-year, $12MM extension. While many such deals are panned when they’re signed, Luebke’s decision to accept that then-modest sum now appears wise in light of his arm troubles.
A return to a starting role doesn’t appear likely for Luebke following a pair of Tommy John operations, but he could get an opportunity to compete for a bullpen gig with the rebuilding ChiSox in 2017. Dan Jennings currently stands as the top lefty option in new manager Rick Renteria’s bullpen, with less-proven southpaw Giovanni Soto (not to be confused with the catcher of the same, albeit differently spelled name) also in line to get a look this spring.
As for Blair, the 27-year-old is a longtime Red Sox farmhand that made his big league debut with the A’s in 2015 after signing a minor league deal there. Blair received just 35 plate appearances and didn’t hit well, but he’s coming off a more productive .250/.339/.372 batting line split between the A’s and Rangers organizations in 2016 (all in the minor leagues). He’s not likely to factor into the Sox’ plans out of Spring Training but could head the minors and serve as a depth piece in either Double-A or Triple-A.
Bourgeois, 35, made his Major League debut with the 2008 White Sox (though he played in just six games) and would go on to appear for five teams over the next seven seasons. He’s a career .253/.300/.326 hitter in the Majors and delivered a solid .292/.333/.385 batting line in 122 Triple-A contests with the Sox and D-backs last year.