The Cubs’ bench just got a little more versatile with a little more pop, as Daniel Descalso is officially on the team.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 18, 2018
I love this signing, which we discussed earlier today. You have to keep it within context, of course, as Descalso is not an impact bat, and he cannot be offered up as a fundamental offseason change to an offense that “broke” last year. But he can be offered up as a versatile defender, who has dramatically improved his ability to make quality contact over the past few years, and who could give the Cubs a lot of options – both this offseason and day-to-day during the season.
From here, the Cubs could do nothing on the positional side, and therefore see Descalso as merely a more defensively-able bench upgrade to Tommy La Stella. Or, the Cubs could see Descalso as more of a super utility man, replacing Ben Zobrist, who turns 38 next year in the final season of his contract, and thus allowing the team to shop Zobrist. Or, the Cubs could see Descalso as added infield depth in the event that they decide to part ways with Addison Russell.
I tend to think Descalso makes sense for the Cubs whatever they opt to do next – if anything – so I think it’s a good signing. I am, of course, still curious to see if there is a broader plan in place, because I’m not going to stop banging the drum about adding an impact bat to the offseason.
As for Descalso, he figures to start heavily at second base early in the season, with Javy Baez at shortstop, and will otherwise pick up starts all over and bat off the bench.
For much more on how Descalso has improved over the past few years – in surprising and possibly sustainable ways – see our deeper dive here.