Cubs have to chart a path forward at the first base position
With the release of Frank Schwindel this weekend, a recent chapter, however brief, for the Chicago Cubs at first base is a thing of the past. Sure, he’s been hurt and was demoted to Triple-A Iowa weeks ago, but the move sends a clear signal that the team is looking for a new solution at the position heading into 2023.
Mixing and matching with Alfonso Rivas and Patrick Wisdom doesn’t seem like a real answer to the question – at least not if the front office winds up being as active as its expected to be this winter. But does that mean Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins will shell out big bucks at the position?
If Wisdom is still on the roster come Opening Day, he could team up with someone like Matt Mervis to handle first base duties. Essentially a league average bat with decent positional versatility, you can make the case Wisdom is better suited for a bench role rather than being a starter on a contending team.
Mervis, meanwhile, has set the Minor League Baseball world ablaze this year, splitting time between South Bend, Tennessee and Iowa – hitting 34 home runs, driving in 113 runs and putting up a .986 OPS. Given he doesn’t need to be protected from the Rule 5 this winter, we won’t see him at Wrigley in September, but he’s going to play this fall in Arizona with an eye on making the big league roster out of camp next spring.
If he can prove that his 2022 performance was for real, Mervis could be a badly-needed long-term solution at a position that’s remained in flux since the Cubs traded Anthony Rizzo last July.
I wouldn’t hold my breath on a reunion between Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs
Speaking of Rizzo, he’ll be a name to keep an eye on this offseason. He has the ability to opt out of his deal with the Yankees – and in a relatively weak first base class, it seems likely he would out-do that contract should he make another foray into free agency.
Given how things ended between Chicago and the former face of the franchise, I still don’t see a reunion being all that likely. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s far more likely the Cubs go out and add someone like Yuli Gurriel or Carlos Santana in hopes of platooning these veterans with Mervis.
Regardless of which path the organization goes down, it’s clear that, among a lengthy list of to-do items this winter, first base needs attention as the Cubs look to turn the corner on its ongoing rebuild.