Cubs sign James McDonald to a minor league deal

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Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher James McDonald to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp in spring training.

McDonald, 29, suffered a strained shoulder after his sixth start with the Pirates last season. He did not return, finishing 2013 with a 5.76 ERA in 29 2/3 innings of work. In the past, McDonald has shown glimmers of promise with a decent ability to miss bats but control and a tendency to give up home runs have held him back.

McDonald will try to win a spot at the back of the Cubs’ starting rotation, but he could also end up contributing out of the bullpen at some point.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.