Given his relative youth and promising production against left-handed pitching throughout his career, Phillip Ervin was an obvious target and addition for the Cubs outfield earlier this winter. But after adding Joc Pederson, Jake Marisnick, and Cameron Maybin to the picture, Ervin became a 40-man roster casualty over the weekend (designated for assignment).
Given his particular skillset and the time of the year, I was holding out hope that Ervin could make it through waivers and return to the Cubs for a shot at earning a bench job this spring. But the Braves have swooped in and claimed him off waivers.
OF Phillip Ervin — recently DFA'd by Cubs — has been claimed by the Braves.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) February 22, 2021
Ervin does not have any minor league options remaining, so he’ll be added to the Braves 40-man and 26-man active roster for the time being. And while I do understand why the Cubs may have preferred Marisnick and Maybin, Ervin’s success against lefties did make a whole lot of sense.
Here’s a little more on this from Brett over the weekend:
The decision to risk losing Phillip Ervin via waivers upon officially adding Jake Marisnick last night is an interesting one, because there was easily a version of the roster where both guys make the bench as the 4th and 5th outfielders. The Cubs have three primary outfielders who can hit extremely well against righties and … not so much against lefties. Ervin would’ve been that guy. Marisnick, for his part, hits lefties much better than righties, but he’s still below average overall against lefties. The Cameron Maybin signing probably had a big impact on the Cubs being willing to risk losing Ervin, because he’s probably a better bet to make the team than Ervin in the abstract, but he is also not a guy who hits lefties super well.
So, without Ervin (or Michael Hermosillo, for example) making the bench, the Cubs will have no outfielders who can really hit well against lefties. That seems like a weird, self-inflicted problem. Maybe the Cubs figure they have to make good on the offer to start Joc Pederson every day anyway, so that takes out a spot … but surely they’re not going to play Jason Heyward against every tough lefty, right? Haven’t we learned that lesson by now about optimizing his effectiveness? Also: it would definitely help all of this if Ian Happ takes another step forward against lefties. So far in his career, his work from the right side of the plate has been inconsistent, but he gets a lot less experience there. There’s probably a lot of room for growth.