Even as we’re hit with a tidal wave of arbitration-related reports, Beerleaguer stands firm with the news you care about, and by that I mean Matt Smith news.
Smith, the man who would have been the Phillies' top situational lefthander and possible eighth-inning answer under Pat Gillick’s 2007 blueprint, has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs. Part of the two-for-four deal that sent Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the Yankees, the 29-year-old showed promise at the tail end of 2006, but made just nine ineffective appearances at the beginning of '07 before he was demoted and shut down with Tommy John surgery. He rehabbed in Clearwater last season.
Sticking with the Cubs, outfielder So Taguchi has agreed on a minor league deal that would pay him $900,000 if he makes the club out of spring training. Taguchi, a .220/.283/.297 hitter in 99 plate appearances with the Phils, would need to beat out Joey Gathright and Reed Johnson for a backup position, which is unlikely. According to a Chicago Tribune blog, his best bet is if Kosuke Fukudome has a bad spring and gets sent to Triple-A Iowa to start the season.
In related news, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi is bowing out of American baseball and will return to Japan, signing a three-year deal with Bobby Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines. Iguchi was acquired after last season’s non-waiver deadline and was a non-factor. Iguchi has a place in Phillies history for the work he did filling in for Chase Utley in '07.
Finally - as we scrape the bottom of the barrel of this report - lefthanded reliever Stephen Randolph, who posted some sick strikeout totals at Lehigh Valley last season (75 in 47 1-3 innings), has signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers. The 34-year-old veteran has never parlayed his minor league success into a big-league career because he has no control whatsoever.