last posts

Cubs could pursue additional offense via trade using excess rotation


The Cubs need to add offense and the main candidates to help them in that pursuit – Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer – don’t project themselves as big producers. It’s possible that either could help round things out if several other members of the roster are at the 95th percentile or higher than their most optimistic projections, but things don’t look great on paper. There aren’t many options available to change this perspective either.

Luke Voit is a very flawed slugger who could be a good fit at first base/DH because he’s right-handed, won’t command a lot of money, and has a timeshare having only topped 500 board appearances twice in six seasons. However, he’s topped 30% strikeouts in each of the last two seasons and isn’t known for his glove work. Given the uncertainty with Matt Mervis, the Cubs are likely looking for a lower tier with any complementary additions there.

I’ll reluctantly tip my mortal enemy Tommy Meyers, who laid out a few more possibilities in a Tuesday morning tweet. Along with Voit and Mancini, free agents Nelson Cruz and David Peralta are still there.

The top priority to start the new year, even though Hosmer is a Cub, is to add the best bat possible to 1B/DH. A few options? FA: Trey Mancini, Luke Voit, Nelson Cruz, David Peralta Trade: Seth Brown, Garrett Cooper, Austin Meadows, Anthony Santander

Peralta was connected to the Cubs for a while now, making him a low-key Brian Roberts or Whit Merrifield, but I’m not a big fan of diminished power. Cruz turns 43 in July and is coming off his worst showing since 2008, but much of that is down to a problem with his left eye which he underwent surgery in October to correct. Having good vision is important for any hitter, and a right-handed hitter would be especially hampered by poor left-sided vision.

Assuming he’s able to see clearly, the aging slugger could still have enough pop to boost a roster that currently has very little.

But as the title suggests, we’re more interested in the trade market right now as the Cubs may have too many starters even though their strategy is to stretch the rotation a bit. Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman and Jameson Taillon are locks, Drew Smyly is not paid 8 million dollars be a reliever, and Kyle Hendricks plans to be healthy. Hayden Wesneski has proven he deserves a chance to start, and then you have Ben Brown, Caleb Kilian and other prospects waiting in the wings.

That could leave Adrian Sampson on the outside despite being one of the team’s best pitchers last season. The 30-year-old right-hander went 104.1 innings in 21 appearances, including 19 starts, and worked his way to a startling 3.11 ERA with a significantly reduced home run rate. I always felt like the other shoe was going to fall off, but changes to its height handles and the mix made Sampson a consistent performer all five days. He also only earns $1.9 million in 2023 and is under the club’s control for another three years.

Weighing heavily against all he has going for him is the fact that Sampson doesn’t throw hard, miss bats or get a ton of ground balls. Even if he doesn’t regress to his earlier propensity to allow home runs, he doesn’t really offer the Cubs anything they don’t already have in a rotation which, unlike what Jed Hoyer has been talking about doing for years years now, does not showcase the big arms. Maybe something could be worked out with a team that has an expendable bat and needs a pitcher to change pace from a few flamethrowers.

Of the names listed above, I really like Austin Meadows as a rebound contender after a disastrous season with the Tigers following several different health issues. Detroit has also messed up a lot of hitters with its organizational hitting philosophy, so a bump isn’t far-fetched at all. Provided he is fully recovered from his physical ailments and is mentally healthy, Meadows is a 30+ year old southpaw with extensive DH experience.

Seth Brown also offers southpaw power, but even the A misers probably aren’t looking to move him just yet since he’s still a pre-arb guy. Maybe getting equivalent control of a pitcher that they can eventually flip would be worth it. Garrett Cooper is more of a high-floor, low-ceiling hitter who would offer a right-handed bat to the pack with Mervis. Even though his 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame hasn’t generated much power, he’s a career .274 hitter with a .348 OBP.

Anthony Santander strikes me as the best possibility of the bunch as a hitter with 30 home runs and a relatively low K-rate (20.2 career percent). He smashes left-handers and produces above league average against right-handers, so he could be the primary DH while easily turning corners in the outfield when needed.

Understand that I’m not necessarily saying that Sampson would bring each of these players back in a straight trade, although his value may be enough to headline a deal. While I’m sure the Cubs could use him this coming season, he feels a bit like he’s in a no-man’s land between established veterans and a crop of young rookies coming out of the system. Then you look at Keegan Thompson and Adbert Alzolay as long relievers and it’s hard to see Sampson having a definite role in the bullpen.

It just feels like the Cubs still need to make at least two more moves to add bats again this offseason, so it only makes sense that at least one of them would stop them from having to DFA someone. Now watch them sign Hosmer and pack him up to prepare for spring training.



Font Size
lines height