The Chicago Cubs could take a look at Yolmer Sánchez as a defense-first bench piece after the Gold Glove winner was placed on waivers this week.
It’s no secret. Second base was a bit of a black hole for the Chicago Cubs in 2019. With Ben Zobrist working through family matters that kept him off the roster for the majority of the year and the continued struggles of Addison Russell, it was a position that posed more questions than answers.
Recently, I opined the team would be best served giving the starting second base job to David Bote. After all, he’s under team control for years to come and has proven that he’s more than capable of handling the bat. Without the mix-and-match tendencies of Joe Maddon, perhaps we’ll see guys like Bote get regular roles to focus on moving forward.
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So assuming Bote handles second base on a daily basis, you have to start thinking about the pieces you put around him to help him be successful. Now we’ve seen him struggle with the leather from time-to-time (although he’s graded out as a largely average defender at the position) – so might it make sense to add a glove-first guy to the mix?
This week, hot on the heels of his winning the Gold Glove at second base, the Chicago White Sox placed Yolmer Sanchez on waivers as they likely hand things over to Nick Madrigal in 2020. The first name that comes to mind when I think of Sánchez? Former Cubs infielder Darwin Barney.
Now, Barney was no offensive juggernaut – to say the least. In his Major League career, he put together a sub-par .635 OPS. But the Cubs didn’t expect to get the value from him with the bat. He made his mark with the glove, winning a Gold Glove and a pair of Wilson Defensive Player of the Year awards in the process.
Back to Sánchez, though. This year, he hit .252 with a .318 on-base percentage. Using OPS+, he ranked nearly 30 percent below league average – clear evidence of his battle to improve at the plate. But if employed as a bench piece, especially in late innings or on days where the Cubs give Bote a blow, he might be the perfect fit.
Aside from what he does with the glove, Sánchez is known for his infectious energy and love of the game. That sounds exactly like the type of player I want to add to the roster of a team searching for a new identity under a first-year manager.
This wouldn’t be the type of move that steals headlines. But more often than not, division titles and championships are won by teams that shore up their weaknesses in under-the-radar moves. Adding Sánchez to the mix this offseason would fit the bill and give Chicago some much-needed depth at second base.