At the big league level, the rest of this year is primarily about player development and information acquisition for the Chicago Cubs. That mostly means doing what you can to set players up for more success in 2023, and also to set yourself up for the best roster/playing time decisions. But it can also mean going outside the organization to take a flier – what have the Cubs got to lose?
Per Sahadev Sharma, the Cubs are going to be bringing in BIG slugger Franmil Reyes, who was recently DFA’d by the Cleveland Guardians:
In other words, the Cubs are taking the opportunity to add Reyes for nothing but money right now, and then they will get to decide whether they want to tender him a contract in the offseason. It’s the whole Dom Smith thing, but without having to make a trade. And arguably, for a better player.
Reyes, 27, was a pretty darn good hitter overall until this past season, when the strikeout rate exploded and the power disappeared (via FanGraphs):
We do know that the Cubs love taking cracks at sluggers who make elite contact quality but who make far too little of it. Reyes fits the mold.
Mostly a DH these days, Reyes can play in the outfield, but this is solely about the bat. The Cubs are going to want to DH him a good bit down the stretch if they truly want to know if they can help him bounce back. You start to wonder if (1) Frank Schwindel’s days are limited on the big league roster, and (2) the Cubs have decided Jackson Frazier is not going to merit another look (because Reyes is very similar in a lot of ways).
There’s the obvious connection with Carter Hawkins here – the new Cubs GM came over from the Guardians organization, where he would have been familiar with Reyes. Given that the Cubs have the 4th-ish waiver priority, Reyes did not go far. Guardians must’ve known he’d be claimed, and just wanted to save some money.
I’ll have to dig in more soon on just what went wrong for Franmil Reyes. More coming. (See Update below)
Aside: I’m not sure I knew it was possible to hit one OUT of Progressive Field:
UPDATE: It’s official. The Cubs have claimed Reyes:
As far as roster moves go, the Cubs have a 40-man spot opening up as Matt Dermody departs for Korea. And the 26-man roster may not be an issue, since Reyes does have minor league options remaining. The Cubs could just let him go to Iowa for a bit.
That said, like I wrote above, the whole point of claiming a guy like Reyes at a time like this in a season like this is so that you can make an informed decision about tendering him a contract after the season (and getting a raise on his $4.55 million salary). You can’t do that if you don’t give him very meaningful big league playing time.