Let’s start with the news, because at this time of the year, things can start happening quickly: Increasingly often-rumored trade target Eric Sogard’s name has popped up once again with respect to the Cubs, and this time it’s a little more serious than before.
Check it out:
Jon Morosi has previously reported that a Sogard-Cubs deal could make some sense (though he mentioned as part of a broader, double-deal including reliever Daniel Hudson), and Jesse Rogers said something similar a while back too, so you should probably take this pretty seriously. After all, Having recent trade discussions is a lot more concrete than A deal could make sense. And if he’s not in the actual lineup tonight, well … I think we can all connect the dots there, right?
But I have to admit, my position on Sogard’s attractiveness is evolving quickly. On the surface, I think he’s a no-brainer improvement over the bats at the end of the Cubs bench (Daniel Descalso and Albert Almora Jr.) and I think the fact that the Cubs just brought in Ian Happ (mostly an outfielder) at the expense of Addison Russell (an infielder) could make a Sogard addition make even more sense right now.
On top of that, he’s gotten fantastic results this season, slashing .299/.363/.480 (124 wRC+) with well-above average production against righties (119 wRC+) and lefties (134 wRC+) alike, while maintaining an above-average walk rate (9.1%) and well-above average strikeout rate (14.2%) – he also hits a TON of fly balls and rarely hits it on the ground.
But it’s not quite that simple (is it ever?). A deeper dive into his numbers at Baseball Savant reveals a much bleaker story. To begin broadly, I’ll point out that Sogard’s .323 BABIP is much higher than his career .279 BABIP (and, really, so are all of those positive offensive numbers up above). But more specifically, his 1.2 barrel rate is in the bottom 2% of the league and his 84.3 MPH average exit velocity is in the bottom 4%.
So while it’s easy to look at his .360 wOBA and start drooling, it’s important to note that his xwOBA (expected wOBA) is all the way down at .299. That’s a HUGE gap … and enough to change your opinion on him dramatically.
Specifically: If the Cubs are able to get Sogard for a price commensurate with the production he’s expected to produce the rest of the season (not the inflated levels at which he’s currently performing) *and* only to supplement other, more impactful additions to the lineup, I think you say heck yeah … go for it. But if he’s to be the addition to the lineup at the deadline, well, that’s a gamble – at best. And not one that should inspire much confidence (even if I’d say it’s probably better than nothing).
But rumors care not for our desires. And right now, a credible source is reporting that the Cubs and Blue Jays have had discussions over a certain player who just so happens to not be in the lineup tonight. That’s not nothing. Stay tuned.