Cubs: Jason Kipnis goes one-and-done, signs with the Braves

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

When Jason Kipnis signed with the Chicago Cubs last offseason, he probably had visions of 40,000-plus cheering at the Friendly Confines. Unfortunately, that’s not how the 2020 season went – and now, the veteran is moving on.

Kipnis, who looked like a potential answer to the Cubs’ second base depth question, signed a minor league pact with the Atlanta Braves on Monday – marking his third team in as many years.

More from Cubbies Crib

The longtime Cleveland Indians staple rebounded, to a degree, at the plate last year with Chicago, posting a 103 wRC+ across 135 plate appearances. At this point in his career, he’s a platoon guy – not your everyday answer at second base – and that’s something Atlanta seems very much aware of.

Last year against right-handed pitching, Kipnis hit .272/.343/.457 – a noted improvement over his .091/.333/.182 mark against southpaws. If Atlanta deploys him effectively, he showed he can clearly still provide some value with the bat.

The Northbrook, IL native gives the Braves some depth behind their middle infield duo of Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson heading into camp. Kipnis hasn’t been an above-average offensive presence since 2016, so don’t go thinking the two-time All-Star will be a game-changer with the club.

Cubs still looking for middle infield depth as camp nears

As for the Cubs, they’ll continue to look. The team reportedly wants a left-handed-hitting middle infielder – but with second base options flying off the board over the last two weeks, the team could resort to someone like Travis Shaw in the final days of the offseason. 

Internally, David Bote and Nico Hoerner are the Cubs’ primary candidates for the second base job – and each comes with their own set of concerns. Bote, a remarkably clutch hitter off the bench, has struggled as a starter and removes a major late-inning weapon from the arsenal of David Ross.

Meanwhile, Hoerner’s development was fast-tracked two years ago thanks to a bevy of middle infield injuries and the Cubs haven’t looked at hitting the brakes, despite his looking overmatched at the dish in 2020, when he batted just .222/.312/.259 (57 OPS+) while earning a nod as a Gold Glove finalist in the field.

Next. Is Kris Bryant's trade market about to take shape?. dark

Hoerner shouldn’t be the answer this spring – but that hardly means he won’t end up being the guy regardless. This team needs more infield depth and, with Kipnis off the board, they’ll have to keep searching.