The Chicago Cubs continued to add to their depth Wednesday morning, as they have reportedly added utilityman Eric Sogard on a minor league deal, per Cubs ESPN correspondent Jesse Rogers. Presumably, Sogard will be a non-roster invitee. A year removed from an excellent season, the 34-year-old will aim to earn a spot by Opening Day. Milwaukee had declined his $4.5 million option last fall.
Sogard and the North Siders have been tied together in rumors for a while now. As a left-hander who can play around the diamond, the versatility could prove beneficial for the Cubs. Of the infield positions, second base is the obvious hole that needs to be figured out in the next few weeks.
It makes the most sense for David Bote to be given the starting job at second base at the start of the season. Sogard does have a strong track record at the position and may foreseeably be given a chance to win the starting spot.
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Cubs: Can Eric Sogard replicate his 2019 success?
Sogard began his 2019 season with the Toronto Blue Jays and finished the year with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 73 games with Toronto, Sogard slashed .300/.363/.477 posting a 122 wRC+ with a very modest 14.6 percent strikeout rate. He slashed .266/.328/.404 in 37 games with the Rays and finished just below-average with a 94 wRC+.
The production dropped off in 2020 after a return to the Milwaukee Brewers. The veteran hit just .209 in 41 games. Even so, the move does make sense for the Cubs. The addition of another lefty will give David Ross options, and he can move pieces around as necessary.
One underrated stat last season on Sogard’s line was his ability to hit in high leverage situations. Sogard hit .471 in 20 plate appearances with a 1.265 OPS. If he can replicate some semblance of that number at a minimum, Chicago will be happy.
Sogard saw his line drive rate increase by nearly six percent from 2019 to 2020, and while his hard-hit rate decreased significantly, Sogard’s medium contact rate increased exponentially, so there may still be something there. No matter, it is a low-risk move by the front office with the potential to pay dividends in some capacity.