Breaking down what Edwin Rios brings to the Chicago Cubs
Earlier this evening, the Chicago Cubs signed third baseman Edwin Rios to a one-year major league deal for 2023. Based on a preliminary look, we know Rios always struggled to find playing time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, not due to poor play but rather because the Dodgers have always been stacked offensively at the corners with Justin Turner at 3B, including others who can play third such as Max Muncy, who spent 84 games at the hot corner in 2022.
For Rios himself, the bat has always shown promise, and he's rather intriguing when you consider what he might be able to do with any consistent playing time. He has never received more than 100 at-bats in a season, notching a slash line of .219/.299/.492. That number, however, is particularly deflated due to a down 2021 season in which he struggled mightily. In the time before and after that, he batted .277 in 2019, .250 in 2020, and .244 this past season in 2022.
Where you can begin to have optimism, however, is that in Triple-A alone, Rios has recorded a line of .282/.349/.526 with 59 HRs and 214 RBIs in just over 1,000 at-bats. With actual consistent playing time, the 28-year-old has always shown promise offensively.
Looking at the more advanced numbers, Rios' numbers become more intriguing. Although we are talking about less than 100 at-bats a season, in three of those years, he has recorded wRC+s of 160, 143, and 120. In his 291 plate appearances at the big league level, he also has a .273 career ISO. Given the seven home runs he recorded in only 86 at-bats in 2022, you can see the trajectory he can at least put himself on, should he remain consistent with at least 400-450 trips to the plate in a given season.
Areas of improvement include cutting back on his strikeout percentage, which sits at a career 32.0% in the MLB. He also owns a .930 FPCT at third base in the 36 games that he has appeared there. For reference, Patrick Wisdom started 102 games at 3B. He recorded a .948% last season, along with -8 runs prevented and -11 outs above average, which was dead last among qualified third basemen in 2022. Still, with any normal playing time, you hope Rios can find his mark defensively at the MLB level.
Chicago Cubs: What role will Edwin Rios play in 2023?
This move indicates that the Cubs' front office is further looking to platoon as much as possible. It's safe to say that Rios will record more ABs than he's ever had in the MLB in one given season. To earn an everyday role, he will need to shape up defensively. Nevertheless, the bat produces at least the potential that he can be an impact hitter on a day-to-day basis.
At the very least, the Cubs get another option that can turn into an offensive weapon. He still has one minor league option left, so he doesn't have to remain on the 26-man roster indefinitely if he doesn't work out. At the very worst, he will be non-tendered at the end of the 2023 campaign. What you hope for, however, is that he can put it all together this season and be the Cubs' everyday third baseman. He still has two years of team control after this season.