Twins Sign Former Cub Mike Olt
My Colt will be running with a new team this season, or so it appears. The former starting third baseman for the Cubs, whose real name is Mike Olt, announced via Instagram that he has signed with the Twins. We’ll have to wait for details on the deal, but it’s pretty safe to assume it’s of the minor league variety.
Olt actually opened the season with the Cubs in both 2014 and ’15, the latter coming as the starting third baseman while Kris Bryant was being detained for club-control reasons. Wait, I meant to say Bryant was working on his defense. Yeah, that’s it. Either way, Olt’s Cubs career was ended by an Adam Ottovino fastball to the wrist on April 11.
Knowing a DL stint would probably spell his doom, what with Bryant’s defense improving at an inverse relationship to his service-time clock, Olt tried to play through the injury. He entered as a pinch hitter in two of the three games following the HBP, but was clearly not himself. An MRI revealed a hairline fracture of his ulna and Olt was banished to Mesa, never to suit up on the North Side again.
Though he put up a .352 wOBA in 235 rehab plate appearances with Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs designated Olt for assignment on August 31. With Bryant fully established as the eventual runaway Rookie of the Year, there just wasn’t any room in Chicago. Not on the North Side, anyway. Olt caught on with the White Sox and slashed .203/.267/.313 in 86 plate appearances to close the season, but has not swung a bat in the bigs since.
After trading for Todd Frazier prior to the 2016 season, the White Sox released Olt. He caught on with the Padres, never making it past Triple-A, then signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox in 2017. He remained at Double-A that season, then signed a new MiLB deal with them for 2018, eventually hitting .224 with a .357 OBP at Triple-A.
The HBP in 2015 obviously impacted Olt’s career path, but you wonder whether everything would have gone in a totally different direction had he not taken a pitch to the head in a Dominican Winter League game three years earlier. Olt suffered concussion-like symptoms, after which he had issues with depth perception. He was later diagnosed with a defective lacrimal gland that resulted in vision problems due to eye dryness.
With his production falling and no permanent solution to the eye issue, Olt was traded to the Cubs as part of a package for Matt Garza that also included Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, and Carl Edwards Jr. Though Olt claimed his vision problems had cleared up in 2014, he was never the fearsome hitter the Cubs had hoped they were getting.
As unlikely as it is that Olt suddenly puts it all back together at age 30, here’s to hoping he defies the odds and manages to catch on with the Twins. I admire his perseverance and I’ve felt a connection to him after randomly bumping into him at a bar in Mesa shortly after he broke his wrist. We watched Kris Bryant play center during a snowy afternoon in Pittsburgh, all while Tommy La Stella looked on incredulously.
So here’s to you, My Colt, may you finally become the slugger you were meant to be.