Well this came out of left field (or right field, as the case may be. Hi-yo.)
According to Jerry Crasnick and Jon Heyman, the Cubs are close to finalizing a one-year deal with non-tendered outfielder Nate Schierholtz.
The 28-year-old outfielder was traded to the Phillies by the Giants midseason, and put up a .257/.321/.407 line across the two stops. He’s long been a platoon/bench type guy, playing both corner outfield spots, and put up a .278/.326/.430 line over 115 games in 2011. That was good for a 114 OPS+ (undervalued asset much?).
Multiple Cubs sources are confirming the signing, with the expectation that Schierholtz will be the Cubs’ starting right fielder.
He’s a career .266/.319/.413 hitter against righties, so it’s possible he’ll be a platoon-mate with Dave Sappelt, a righty (though Schierholtz’s numbers against lefties aren’t much worse). The advanced stats say he’s been decent defensively, but probably something short of very good.
It isn’t a particularly sexy signing, but Schierholtz was garnering a great deal of interest in recent days, and could make for a flippable piece midseason (everyone’s favorite phrase). He could be a stop-gap starter, or an eventual 4th outfielder. Either way, given the Cubs’ expectations for 2013, adding Schierholtz is just fine.
Obviously we’ll have much more on the signing in the coming days.
UPDATE: To including the numbers, Crasnick reports that Schierholtz is getting $2.25 million plus $500K in incentives, which, if accurate, is just a phenomenal deal. No, he’s not a game-changer, and yes, he’s just a platoon guy. But that’s a dirt cheap, minimal commitment for a guy who can actually produce some offensive value. I should be plain, though: it does signal that the Cubs are, indeed, not going to be particularly aggressive in terms of “competing” in 2013.
UPDATE Part 2: As noted astutely in the comments, if the Cubs like what Schierholtz offers this year, he’s actually under control through 2014 by virtue of not having enough service time for free agency by the end of 2013. So the Cubs could offer him arbitration after the season.