The Chicago Cubs are reportedly close to signing free agent catcher Jason Jaramillo to a minor league contract, according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTR. Jaramillo has spent the past couple years with the Pirates, but they recently non-tendered him after using up his 40-man roster spot to sign lefty Erik Bedard.
With Chicago, Jaramillo will likely compete with some other options to be the back-up to incumbent starter Geovany Soto. The Cubs have used Koyie Hill as Soto's back-up for the past couple years, but they decided to non-tender the defensive-minded backstop recently in order to go in a new direction.
At the moment, the most obvious option to back-up Soto is Chicago's top catching prospect, Welington Castillo. He's still the likely favorite to get the gig after hitting .286/.351/.524 with Triple-A Iowa in 2011, but this signing would give the Cubs some additional depth.
Jaramillo, 29, has appeared in the majors with Pittsburgh in each of the past three seasons. He hit a somewhat respectable .252/.309/.364 in 224 plate appearances with the Pirates in 2009, but he hasn't played nearly as much with Pittsburgh over the past two years. He spent most of 2011 in Triple-A, hitting .276/.368/.373 in 155 plate appearances at that level.