James McDonald elects free agency

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After being designated for assignment by the Pirates last weekend, right-hander James McDonald is now free to sign with any team.

McDonald passed through waivers unclaimed and opted for free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to the minors. The 28-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since April 30 due to shoulder soreness and has become an afterthought over the past couple of months.

McDonald owns a 4.20 ERA over 82 starts and 49 relief appearances in the majors. He hasn’t been the same pitcher since the All-Star break last year, but someone will surely take a chance on him. He could be an intriguing option as a late-inning reliever if his days as a starter are over.

Cubs acquire Martín Maldonado from the Royals

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Last night Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was placed on the injured list with a strained muscle in his right foot. That injury inspired the Cubs to go out and get another catcher. They acquired Martín Maldonado in a trade with Kansas City in exchange for lefty Mike Montgomery, in a deal that was announced after the Cubs loss to the Reds.

Maldonado, 32, was a Gold Glove winner in 2017 with the Angels. At the moment he’s hitting .227 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 74 games. Obviously, though, defense is his calling card, as he’s a .220 career hitter with 57 homers and 210 RBIs in 686 games.

Montgomery, 30, is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Cubs this year. He’s heading back to where his pro career began. He was drafted by Kanas City in 2008, though he was traded away in the James Shields/Wade David/Wil Myers deal in 2012. He made his big league debut for Seattle in 2015. Dayton Moore said last night that the Royals plan to use Montgomery in the rotation as a replacement for Homer Bailey, who was dealt to Oakland on Sunday.