Cardinals sign catcher Koyie Hill to minor-league contract

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Koyie Hill was non-tendered by the Cubs in December after batting .194 with two homers and .545 OPS over 153 plate appearances in 2011, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the has latched on with the division-rival Cardinals on a minor-league deal.

Hill, who turns 33 in March, has a .211/.275/.298 batting line over 927 plate appearances in the majors. He has thrown out 28 percent of attempted basestealers.

Gerald Laird returned to the Tigers this offseason on a one-year, $1 million contract, so Hill gives the Cardinals one more option as a potential backup for Yadier Molina. Tony Cruz and Bryan Anderson are also expected to be in the mix.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.