Since the Cubs traded Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees last July, it’s been a tumultuous stretch at the first base position for the North Siders. Frank Schwindel took off like a rocket last summer, only to crash and burn in 2022 and the mix-and-match approach to close out the year left much to be desired.
Now, with Rizzo potentially set to hit the open market in the coming weeks via an opt-out in his deal with the Yankees, it has folks dreaming of some star-crossed reunion between the Cubs and Rizzo – which, I hate to be the one to tell you, probably isn’t going to happen.
Over at Bleacher Nation, Brett shared his insights on the looming opt-out decision for Rizzo, so I’ll do my best to not echo what’s already been said. But one big takeaway from that piece really stood out and it’s the thought Chicago is going to do everything in its power to leave the door open for Matt Mervis to seize the first base job in 2023.
Bringing one of the most popular Cubs players ever only to drop him in a competition for playing time with an unproven, albeit exciting, prospect in Mervis is a huge no-no.
Cubs will focus on giving Matt Mervis a chance for regular playing time
Now, going out and adding Jose Abreu, who can slide back and forth between the DH and first base spots is an entirely different story. He, like Rizzo, has a history of being a clubhouse leader and could come to the Cubs in free agency with the White Sox reportedly poised to move on.
He stays in the city he’s spent his entire career, thus not uprooting his family, the Cubs get a plus bat and vocal leader on a short-term pact and Mervis still has a clear path to everyday at-bats and the starting first base job. Abreu is more than capable of doing his damage at the plate, and a combination of a productive Mervis and Abreu is exciting, to say the least.
Whether or not Rizzo actually opts out remains to be seen. He could do so, only for New York to slap him with a qualifying offer, all but guaranteeing a diminished free agent market. Regardless, I’d guess he stays in the Bronx. This guy is going to see his offensive numbers explode with the elimination of the shift next year. But no matter how badly some might wish to bear witness to that at Wrigley, it’s just not going to happen.