The Cubs added to their outfield depth by claiming an old rival in Phillip Ervin.
The Chicago Cubs have yet to make any major moves this offseason, but they have succeeded in adding significant depth to the roster. Their acquisition of Matt Duffy added a veteran infield option while Jonathan Holder could bolster their bullpen if they get him back into form. Add former Mariner and Cincinnati Red Phillip Ervin to the list of bats clamoring to earn a spot on the 25-man roster.
The Cubs claimed Ervin off of waivers from Seattle after he was DFAd a week prior. It marked his second DFA of the year as the Mariners previously claimed him off waivers from the Reds after his dreadful start at the plate. Like many players, his 2020 season was one to forget as he posted only a 36 OPS+ in 89 plate appearances between both teams.
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Before last year, though, he spent three seasons hitting near league average as a part-time player in Cincinnati. 2019 was his best season though, as he slashed .271/.331/.466 in 264 plate appearances. Fans may also remember Ervin as a sneaky Cubs killer as he posted a nearly .900 OPS with four home runs against the North Siders in 32 games.
Ervin can provide suitable backup for the team in multiple ways. For one, he’ll provide a boost to the Cubs’ batting against lefties as he’s an above average hitter against southpaws. He also provides a serviceable backup outfield option after the departure of Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora. He’s been as average as you can be in the field with 0 DRS for his career, though he’s improved somewhat in recent years.
Now, the Cubs can’t go in to this season with Ervin as the starting left fielder. Against righties, he might as well be swinging a wet noodle at the plate. The hope is that they pickup someone like Jackie Bradley Jr. with Ervin able to platoon with Jason Heyward or Ian Happ.
If that’s the case, this is far from a bad pickup and he’s likely a lock to make the opening day roster given that he’s out of minor league options. Even off the bench, he can provide some serviceable offense against a lefty reliever late in games, though don’t expect him to provide a ton of pop.
This is a typical pickup for what we all know is going to be another frugal offseason and a chance for Jed Hoyer to finally reset the luxury tax. Ervin isn’t going to be the last word for the Cubs, the final piece pushing them into contention again. He’s a fine player capable of providing extra outfield depth and a capable bat against lefties, both of which this team desperately needs.