On ESPN 1000 today, Jesse Rogers spoke with Waddle and Silvy about various Chicago Cubs items from the GM Meetings, much of which we’ve touched on already. But one thing he mentioned that I think is worth noting is how widely the Cubs seem to be casting their net this week while getting the offseason started.
Rogers said the Cubs were taking all kinds of meetings with the representatives for free agents, including first basemen Josh Bell (coming) and Trey Mancini (already happened), and starting pitcher Martin Perez (already happened). Try not to get TOO hung up on the specific names – Rogers seemed to be making the more general point – but those are the specific names he mentioned, so I thought you’d want to know.
Might as well discuss them at least a little bit.
We’ve talked a bit about Bell before as a fit for the Cubs, and with the opening at first base, it only makes sense that the Cubs would keep tabs. Although it sounds like Jose Abreu is their early preference at the spot, Bell could make sense for a lot of the same reasons: he provides a big bat with some power (though not a ton), he doesn’t strike out, he is a switch-hitter (who can DH) so he’s not going to “block” Matt Mervis, and he may not ultimately command a very long-term deal. Bell stunk during the pandemic season, but otherwise he’s raked the last three full seasons. He’s also five years younger than Abreu.
Mancini is 30 like Bell, but he’s been more like a slightly-above-average bat the last two years, without a ton of power. He raked in 2019, but then he battled colon cancer in 2020. The fact that he came back at all in 2021 and 2022 is impressive. As a right-handed hitter, you might think of Mancini as a natural pairing with Mervis, but Mancini is actually really split-neutral for his career. He’s not a guy you’d necessarily think of in a platoon, and also not necessarily as a definite starter (unless you could help him get that 2019 power back). Mancini does come with the bonus ability to play a corner outfield spot in a pinch, though.
Perez, 31, has been pitching in the big leagues for 11 seasons. He came up at age 20 as kind of a “low-ceiling, but capable-floor” type, and he has mostly been that for his career. Annnnnd then he was a stud for the Rangers in 2022: 2.89 ERA over 196.1 innings, 3.27 FIP, 4.3% barrel rate. He also had a career high strikeout rate, though it was just 20.6%. Strikeouts have never been his thing. I’m not sure how much you can buy the results change in 2022, but he did pretty aggressively change his pitch mix with the Rangers, so there might be something here. Interesting to try to do the math on what kind of contract a guy like him can get.