Cubs need to seriously consider making a run at Jeff McNeil

(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

It’s going to be all eyes on Carlos Correa until the lockout ends and we get our long-awaited answer to the question on every Cubs fan’s mind: will he sign a deal to the team’s liking and come be the next face of the franchise in Chicago?

But as I noted recently, there are ways Jed Hoyer can improve this roster that don’t involve taking on a contract that’s guaranteed to exceed $35 million annually for years to come. Free agency was the hot topic leading into the lockout given the insane spending spree we saw in the days leading up to the shutdown, but there’s going to be plenty of movement on the trade market, as well, once this freeze finally thaws out.

According to reports, the revamped New York Mets plan on putting utilityman Jeff McNeil on the trade block as soon as possible in an effort to shore up the team’s pitching and remove someone who’s had a complicated history in the clubhouse from the equation.

McNeil is coming off the worst season of his big league career, in which he batted just .251/.319/.360 in 120 games with New York. That marked the first time he’d batted below .300 in a year and given his issues with teammate Francisco Lindor, it’s not hard to see why the team is looking to move on.

That being said, more than a few clubs reached out to Billy Eppler pre-lockout to gauge the team’s willingness to trade McNeil – showing that there are still plenty of organizations who remain intrigued by A) his skillset and B) his relative affordability and long-term control.

The Chicago Cubs should undoubtedly be among those interested suitors.

I already looked at what I consider to be a pretty weak Cubs outfield mix heading into 2022. There’s certainly potential, to be sure, but very little in the sense of ‘sure things’. McNeil is more than capable of slotting into the outfield picture, while also providing depth in the infield, where Chicago faces more questions with essentially every member of the projected starting lineup.

Jeff McNeil would give the Cubs an insurance policy all over the diamond

Will Patrick Wisdom be able to drastically reduce his strikeout tendencies? Were the two insane months Frank Schwindel put up a flash in the pan or signs of something sustainable? How will Nick Madrigal bounce back from an injury-ravaged 2021 season? Can Nico Hoerner stay healthy? The list goes on and on and having someone as versatile as McNeil in the picture could stabilize things quite a bit.

Under team control for the next three years, he’d likely be around when the Cubs emerge from this reset. Chicago hasn’t had someone this versatile (outside of Kris Bryant) since the Ben Zobrist era. I don’t suspect the asking price will be sky high, so perhaps Hoyer can scrounge up enough arms to make this happen.

Next. Would you give up a draft pick to sign Michael Conforto?. dark

Either way, adding versatility to the roster – and a plus bat, to boot – is hardly the worst idea in the world, even if it means getting creative in how you put a deal together.