This winter, the Chicago Cubs signed Xavier Nady, coming off Tommy John surgery, to be the team’s fourth outfielder for just over $3.3 million, which was considered a bargain. He soon lost his fourth outfielder job to rookie Tyler Colvin, and struggled for most of the year. Whether his struggles were related to the surgery was unclear, but his recent performance certainly suggests that he’s getting better as time goes on.
Since taking over at first base on August 16, following the Derrek Lee trade, Nady is hitting .324, and his OPS is well over .800. So with an opening at first base next year, the natural questions are: would the Cubs consider Nady for the full-time first base job, and would Nady consider returning to the Cubs? To the latter question, at least, the answer is a resounding yes.
”Absolutely,” Xavier Nady said of his interest in returning after his one-year contract expires next month. ”A hundred percent. It’s a wonderful city, an unbelievable organization. I’ve been very fortunate with some of the places I’ve been able to play. And I’ve got nothing but good things to say about [here].”…
[A]lthough he was signed as an outfielder — one coming off a second Tommy John surgery and unable to throw at full strength most of the year — he’s in his comfort zone at first base, where he played before being converted to the outfield in the minors.
”I enjoy it,” he said. ”I’m happy D-Lee’s got an opportunity to play for October. But I haven’t played over there in a couple of years, so this gives me that little life back over there, remembering how much I actually enjoy playing over there. That’s been encouraging.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
The decision may – as it often does – come down to money. If the Cubs can afford Adam Dunn, he’ll be the primary target. If not, then perhaps they’ll try to go cheap on Nady. But will Nady, a Scott Boras client, accept another low dollar, one-year deal? If he convinces suitors that his August and September stats are the real Nady, no.
Even if he would accept a small money deal, is he really the best option for the Cubs at first? He says he feels comfortable there, but he looks like anything but a natural fielder at first. When I watch him, I see long, labored, and sometimes confused routes to grounders. I see a mediocre glove and a weak arm (which, I recognize, could be vastly improved by next year). After six years of Derrek Lee at first base, the defensive difference could be shocking – particularly to a left side of the infield with strong but erratic arms.