Latest On Cubs’ First Base Plans

The common batting line for first basemen in 2022 was .246/.320/.410, wRC+ of 107. For the Cubs, they used varied gamers on the chilly nook for a mixed slash line of .232/.304/.348, wRC+ of 86, that latter stat being twenty fourth out of the 30 MLB groups. Given that disparity, the Cubs will undoubtedly be searching for higher manufacturing in 2023. They may need an in-house resolution in Matt Mervis, though they can even be searching for exterior upgrades this winter. “He’s very a lot in our plans,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer stated about Mervis, per Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic. “But I believe we’re additionally going to be energetic in exploring options.”

Mervis has actually exploded onto the scene in 2022. As talked about within the piece linked above, he did not get drafted in both 2019 or 2020, finally signing with the Cubs as an undrafted free agent. He performed 72 minor league video games in 2021, hitting at a below-average degree.

2022 has been a very totally different story, nonetheless. He began the season in High-A and fully mashed, producing a batting line of .350/.389/.650, wRC+ of 189. He obtained bumped to Double-A and hit .300/.370/.596 for a wRC+ of 148. After shifting to Triple-A, his line was .297/.383/.593, 152 wRC+. Incredibly, his stroll price improved from 4.6% to eight.7% to 10.4% as he moved up the ladder, whereas his strikeout price fell from 24.1% to twenty% to 14.6%. The Cubs determined to maintain the nice occasions rolling by sending him to the Arizona Fall League, the place he hit .262/.324/.590 in 17 video games.

It’s not simply the bat that has the Cubs excited both. “He’s extra athletic than folks suppose,” Cubs vice chairman of participant growth Jared Banner stated. “He is aware of his manner across the bag at first base. He’s a pleasant, huge goal, and he really grades out very well defensively. No worries there.”

Despite that large breakout season, it stands to cause that the Cubs do not need to merely hand over the beginning job to Mervis simply based mostly on that. “We’re thrilled with what he is doing,” Hoyer stated. “We know he is an enormous a part of the place we’re going. But on the identical time, we now have to be cognizant of getting actual depth. Injuries and different issues occur.”

With Mervis seemingly on the cusp of reaching the majors however not a assure to instantly succeed, it is seemingly that the membership will search for a short-term addition to first base. That manner, ought to Mervis proceed charging ahead, he would not be blocked from securing the full-time job. The Cubs do not actually have a participant locked into the designated hitter combine, so it is doable that Mervis may co-exist on the roster with somebody who would require a long-term deal like, say, Josh Bell. However, groups usually do not like clogging up the DH spot and like to rotate gamers via there. That’s very true of a workforce just like the Cubs that is nonetheless attempting to provide at-bats to younger gamers and consider their capabilities in opposition to main league pitching. That being stated, with no actual lock for first or DH, the Cubs are one of many groups finest suited to suit a bat-first participant into their lineup.

MLBTR’s Top 50 had Josh Bell as the highest accessible first baseman, predicted a contract of 4 years and $64MM, or $16MM per yr. However, Jose Abreu was really pegged for a better contract by way of common annual worth: $40MM over two years. Abreu has an extended and extra spectacular observe file however he is greater than 5 years older than Bell, therefore the disparity. The White Sox appear set to let Abreu stroll and exchange him with Andrew Vaughn at first, and the Cubs have been reported to be excited about facilitating a crosstown transfer. Brandon Drury could be a wise match, if the Cubs are content material with shifting him to second or third base within the occasion Mervis takes over at first.

If the Cubs go for a extra short-term resolution, gamers that may seemingly be had on one-year offers are included Brandon Belt, Matt Carpenter, Trey Mancini, Yuli Gurriel p Wil Myers. There’s additionally the commerce market, which may characteristic bats like Rowdy Tellez p Eric Hosmer. Tellez nonetheless has two seasons of arbitration management remaining and is projected for a $5.3MM wage this yr by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Hosmer nonetheless has three years left on his deal however the Padres agreed to pay down the whole lot however the league minimal when buying and selling him to the Red Sox.

There are many various choices accessible to the membership and the way they proceed will rely on how a lot religion they’ve in Mervis and the way a lot they need to spend. Last yr, the Cubs gave out an entire bunch of one-year offers to veterans, with Seiya Suzuki‘s 5 years and Marcus Stroman‘s three years (with an opt-out after two) the one multi-year offers.

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