With less than two weeks left until pitchers and catchers report to camp, Jed Hoyer still has plenty of items left on his shopping list before you can call this roster anywhere close to complete.
Things have picked up of late for the Chicago Cubs, with the team bringing in former Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson and right-hander Trevor Williams via free agency. Hoyer followed those moves up with a handful of minor league signings and a somewhat surprising one-year, $2.25 million deal with left-hander Andrew Chafin.
Why is that surprising? Well, because the starting rotation is still really shaky, even after the addition of Williams – and the lack of infield depth is really troubling, particularly at second base. After Kolten Wong signed with the division rival Milwaukee Brewers, here are some potential answers for the Cubs’ second base question.
Cubs could add a long-missed speed element in Jonathan Villar
It’s been a really long time since Chicago boasted a speed presence atop the lineup. Free agent Jonathan Villar could give the lineup a much-needed new look in 2021. Splitting the 2020 campaign between Toronto and Miami, the 29-year-old infielder struggled, especially after joining the Jays for the season’s final weeks.
Still, he’s just two years removed from a campaign where he played in all 162 games, turned in a 109 OPS+ and swiped 40 bases. The last time Chicago had a player steal 40 bases in a single season? Juan Pierre back in 2006, when he stole 58 bags with the North Siders.
Putting Villar in that Cubs lineup completely changes the feel and look of a team that’s lived and died with the long ball in recent years. He’s still young enough to have some solid years ahead of him, giving him value both as a member of the team and a potential trade chip should the team go the full rebuild route.