The Cubs Are Reportedly "Intent On Getting a Leadoff Guy" - Names Mentioned: Dyson, Peralta, Inciarte(?)

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The Cubs Are Reportedly “Intent On Getting a Leadoff Guy” – Names Mentioned: Dyson, Peralta, Inciarte(?)

Chicago Cubs

Today, Bruce Levine reported something on The Score that caught my attention because of the extra half-tick of specificity (and, let’s admit it, my own personal sense of offensive desperation): “The Chicago Cubs are intent on getting a leadoff guy.” SWEET. Do it.

On the surface, this makes plenty of sense, right? The Cubs have a hole at the top of the lineup and the flexibility to open up a position in the outfield or second base without blinking (and could even make space at third base by sending Kris Bryant to the outfield if it came to that). In other words, if the bat is right, the positional fit is easy to envision.

But can/will the Cubs actually make this happen? And for whom? Well, according to Levine, the Cubs did make an offer to the Blue Jays for Eric Sogard, but their proposal was declined and he was promptly traded to the Rays. But Sogard is not the only available bat. Levine continued: “The other guys out there, according to my research and sources that I’ve been able to talk to … The Arizona Diamondbacks have two that the Cubs have been looking at Jarrod Dyson …. The other guy is David Peralta.”

Both players have been connected to the Cubs in rumors this month – so I do believe they’re legitimately in the picture – but we can do a brief recap of their most important notes/qualities before continuing.

Jarrod Dyson

  • Age: 34
  • Position: Outfield
  • Bats: Left-handed
  • Total 2019 Salary: $3.5 million
  • Contract Status: free agent at the end of the season

Dyson is not an impact-bat, per se, with just a .251/.336/.358 overall slash line, but he does have a lot to offer, including a .378 OBP in limited duty against left-handed pitchers this season (.330 OBP against righties). But more than anything, Dyson offers quality outfield defense at all three spots and great base running. In fact, his 24 stolen bases is tied for the most in the National League. So a move for Dyson could really kill two birds with one stone: improving the bench/depth *and* adding the requisite stretch-run/postseason speedster. I really like the idea of adding Dyson – regardless of what else happens on the roster.

David Peralta

  • Age: 31
  • Position: Outfield
  • Bats: Left-handed
  • Total 2019 Salary: $7 million
  • Contract Status: 1.5 years of control (arbitration)

Peralta was actually the first bat attached to the Cubs in a rumor this season, and *IF HEALTHY*, he’s certainly more likely to be an impact than anyone else to whom they’ve been connected (besides, perhaps, Nicholas Castellanos). Last season, Peralta maintained a 130 wRC+ over 146 games and for his career, he has a 116 wRC+.

This season, he’s slashing .281/.344/.461 (106 wRC+) with positive scores on defense for the first time in his career (so … maybe take that with a grain of salt). But unlike Dyson, Peralta is not going to cover center field.

It’s also worth noting that Peralta’s slightly above-average overall production isn’t exactly evenly split. This season he’s been AWFUL against lefties (58 wRC+) and actually pretty fantastic against righties (127 wRC+). That’ll obviously factor into things for a team already with two left-handed hitting outfielders (Schwarber and Heyward) plus another switch-hitter (Happ).

Finally, as Brett explored on Peralta, the question of the health of his shoulder looms large, and may not be answered satisfactorily before the deadline.

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

But Levine didn’t stop there. After re-sharing two familiar names on the trade market, he brought up a surprising (albeit not particularly enticing) new entry: “The other guy is from Atlanta … Ender Inciarte.” Hmm. That’s somewhat new/unexpected.

The Atlanta Braves are solidly in first place, so trading with them could be tricky. However, as a smaller market club, it’s entirely possible they’ll want to shed some of Inciarte’s remaining salary: $5M in 2019, $7M in 2020, $8M in 2021, $9M club option in 2022 ($1.025M buyout). While the Cubs are dealing with their own budgetary limitations, that has much more to do only with this season, when Inciarte isn’t making as much (and that obviously does not include any salary the Cubs could trade off in a deal like this, either).

But does he actually make any sense for this roster as an addition right now and into the future? Eh … I’m not so sure.

Ender Inciarte

  • Age: 28
  • Position: Outfield
  • Bats: Left-handed
  • Total 2019 Salary: $5 million
  • Contract Status: 3.5 years (including a club option)

Inciarte is young, comes with plenty of cheap-ish team control, and was once upon a time a pretty highly coveted players because of his average-ish bat and truly exceptional center field defense (he’s a three-time Gold Glove winner, including last season), but he’s been far from that guy this year.

The glove is still probably great (though it does rate worse than usual), but unfortunately, his bat has completely disappeared (.217/.307/.350, 70 wRC+ this year) – and along with it, much of his playing time. As Levine points out, that declining playing time is also part of the calculus on his availability, even on a contending team. (The Braves just lost outfielder Nick Markakis to a long-term injury, so if they’re still willing to trade Inciarte, that says a lot about how they project him into the future, doesn’t it?)

Inciarte has also dealt with back issues this year.

To be fair, Inciarte can also steal bases (28 last season), but he’s not exactly known as a burner and probably wouldn’t be that “sure-thing” stolen base the Cubs could be looking for down the stretch. His defense is a huge plus, but with Jason Heyward and Albert Almora already on the roster (plus Ian Happ available to take over a corner spot late in ball games), I question whether the Cubs really need to spend any capital (money or otherwise) to improve their outfield defense.

Now, to be clear: Levine was pretty clearly reporting that the Cubs are intent on adding a leadoff hitter, but only sharing these three names as possibilities. Other players are sure to be on their radar – and presumably not all left-handers, like this trio – so keep an eye out for that, too. And I guess add Inciarte to the list of possible additions to the Cubs as the deadline approaches.

Obligatory: I’m sure the Cubs have explored Whit Merrifield many times over at this point, but the price tag has to be astronomical.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami