Despite some legitimate improvement to the roster this offseason, the Chicago Cubs could still really use another bat in their lineup. Probably someone who can play third base, first base, and/or designated hitter. And while the most likely path there remains signing someone like free agent 1B Trey Mancini, there are other options, particularly on the trade market.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell from the outside who’s actually available. For example – the biggest and best example – the Red Sox may be struggling to extend Rafael Devers right now, but do we really think they’ll trade him? I’m not so sure they will (… boy that would be IDEAL). And that’s a guy who has been openly discussed – what about guy who could be available, but haven’t even been the subject of public discourse? It’s just hard to know.
That said, we did just learn about two new names potentially hitting the trade block, and either/both could be a fit for the Cubs.
In an article primarily about the Mets’ continued efforts to sign Carlos Correa after the fallout of his concerning physical, Mike Puma (New York Post) dropped this notable piece of news: “The interested parties during this delay (in signing Correa) include Eduardo Escobar and Luis Guillorme, one or both of whom could be traded if Correa’s deal with the Mets is completed.”
Luis Guillorme, 28, plays second base and third base for the Mets (also backs up shortstop from time to time). He’s arbitration eligible for the second time this year, and is projected to make just $1.5 million. Eduardo Escobar, 33, primarily played third base this past season, but has experience at first base and second base, as well. He’ll make $9.5 million in 2023 and comes with a $9M club option ($500K buyout) for 2024.
Positionally, both fit in with the Cubs, and neither is particularly expensive. Guillorme is the younger and longer-term play, clearly, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily the right way to think about this sort of addition. The Cubs are hardly “selling out” for 2023, but I do think focusing on their potential production for just this next season makes more sense. Neither guy is likely to be the long-term solution for the Cubs at third, so it’s really about who mixes and matches better for 2023. Then, the Cubs can go out (or internal) to find a better option next winter.
Guillorme bats from the left side of the plate and has been around a league-average bat, with solid average and OBP skills, but no discernable power, over the past two seasons: .269/.356/.330 (103 wRC+).
Against righties from 2021-2022, Guillorme has slashed an even stronger .286/.375/.357 (115 wRC+), with a 12% walk rate and a 13.7% strikeout rate. Unfortunately, he hits the ball on the ground WAY too much (55.3% last season) and doesn’t make a lot of loud contact (86.2 MPH average exit velocity, 24.9% hard hit rate … quite bad).
His primary skill is excellent plate discipline: In 2022, Guillorme swung at just 25.1% of pitches out of the zone and made contact with 92.6% of pitches in the zone. Both would be around the top-15 or so hitters in MLB if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
Escobar, a switch hitter, is much more of an everyday player than Guillorme, and has been the better overall hitter these past two seasons, too: .250/.309/.459 (110 wRC+). He doesn’t have the same level of plate coverage as Guillorme, but his 21.8% strikeout rate is still pretty great, and he’s got MUCH more power (2021-2022): .208 ISO, .459 SLG, 52 doubles, 48 homers.
Given the skillset on the rest of the Cubs roster, I think playing for power would probably make more sense. But how about those splits? How does that factor in?
Over the last two seasons, Escobar has slashed .277/.318/.527 (130 wRC+) against left-handed pitching with just an 18.3% strikeout rate. Obviously, in a vacuum, that’s excellent, but there’s one problem: Patrick Wisdom.
Last season, Wisdom absolutely destroyed left-handed pitching (147 wRC+). So if he’s going to be a part-time player at third base (because he’s already in-house), finding someone who complements him probably makes the most sense. Unfortunately, Guillorme is a lot weaker batting from the left side, against right-handed pitchers (2021-2022): .235/.300/.420 (97 wRC+).
So ultimately, I’m not sure either guy is really an ideal fit for the Cubs. Guillorme has the better splits and is both young and cheap. But he doesn’t hit for any power whatsoever. Escobar is a better overall hitter and hits for power, but he’s older, more expensive, and doesn’t quite complement the Cubs’ internal options all that well.
Now, with all that said, there’s always the possibility of two things changing the calculus here: (1) The Cubs see something in one or both of these guys they think they can improve; and/or (2) The trade return to the Mets changes the makeup of the Cubs big league roster enough to make one or the other a better fit.
At the end of the day, these are two useful big league players that cover positions of general need for the Chicago Cubs. If the Mets are especially motivated to move one of them after Correa signs, there could be some value to capture.