Surprise: Chicago Cubs Sign Slugging Third Baseman Edwin Rios to a Big League Deal

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Surprise: Chicago Cubs Sign Slugging Third Baseman Edwin Rios to a Big League Deal

Chicago Cubs

Well this is a surprise! A Friday night signing – a big league deal at that – after Spring Training has begun.

The third base competition just got even more crowded:

Edwin Rios, 28, has clearly been holding out all offseason for a big league deal, and for whatever reason, now was the time the Cubs decided to pull the trigger.

The lefty-batting 3B/1B former Dodger is a guy who has always hit in the big leagues in a small sample, but he’s done it in that huge-power, huge-strikeout way: .219/.299/.492/112 wRC+, 32.0% K rate. Huge exit velocity. Huge barrel rates (15.5% in the big leagues(!)). He’s a monster when he hits the ball, which makes him something of a younger, lefty Patrick Wisdom.

Rios never really got much playing time with the Dodgers, not unlike Zach McKinstry, whom the Cubs also plucked from the Dodgers in the Chris Martin trade. These are guys who COULD be big league regulars or quality bench guys, but just ran into serious crowding on an absurdly good Dodgers roster the last few years.

We’ll have to dig in more on Rios and how exactly he fits with the Cubs – who have so many borderline infield options now (including “third baseman” Nick Madrigal). The third base competition now includes Rios, Madrigal, Wisdom, McKinstry, Christopher Morel, and Miles Mastrobuoni.

Rios rates out as slightly below average defensively at third base, and has spent a little time at first and in the outfield, too. He does have one minor league option year remaining, so he doesn’t have to make the big league roster out of camp. But clearly the Cubs had to give him a big league deal to land him.

As for the corresponding move, we knew that Ethan Roberts (Tommy John surgery) wouldn’t be back until midseason at the earliest, so that’s just a free move. Send him to the 60-day IL, open up a 40-man spot, add Rios. Easy.

Of course, this may be the reason we haven’t seen Michael Fulmer’s deal become officially official yet. The Cubs have to move someone else off the 40-man (Codi Heuer to the 60-day?) now that they’ve added Edwin Rios.

Oh, by the way – enjoy Rios’s 2022 homers:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.