Chicago Cubs chemistry shouldn't come at cost of winning

Chicago Cubs v Oakland Athletics
Chicago Cubs v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Over the course of the past week, much has been made in regard to the chemistry that the 2023 Chicago Cubs have. It started with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic highlighting the importance of team dinners in relation to this current group of players on the Cubs' roster.

"Since the start of the season, the players have organized several team dinners, most recently Sunday night in San Francisco, in between series against the Dodgers and A’s. Taillon said he, Hosmer and Bellinger split the bill for that meal. Drew Smyly paid for another in Los Angeles, Kyle Hendricks yet another in spring training. Sometimes the pitchers and catchers get together. Other times, it’s the entire club."

Ken Rosenthal via The Athletic

There definitely is something to be said about veteran players showing the way of the land to a Cubs' team that has been without a legitimate veteran presence since the 2021 Major League Baseball trade deadline.

But, chemistry should not come at the cost of winning. That is why a concerning report from Patrick Mooney of The Athletic touched on why Matt Mervis is not with the Major League team.

"Promoting Mervis from Triple-A Iowa is simply not under consideration while the Cubs are riding the momentum from their strong start to the season (11-7). Giving some level of assurance to Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini before signing those free agents — and then turning on them in April — is not a good way of doing business. Mervis is not on the 40-man roster, another factor as the Cubs try to manage their talent across a 162-game schedule."

Patrick Mooney via The Athletic

The concerning trend is that there are talent deficiencies on the Major League roster that could easily be addressed with the promotions of first base prospect Matt Mervis or utility player Christopher Morel. There is also a path where the Cubs could make room for each player without losing the veteran presences of Eric Hosmer or Trey Mancini.

After signing with the Cubs at the start of Spring Training, third baseman Edwin Rios has seen little playing time since the start of the season. Rios has only appeared in 9 games this season while totaling 20 plate appearances. Rios' only hit on the season was a home run.

Luis Torrens, a catcher by trade, made the Cubs' roster because of the team liking the power he would provide off the bench. Torrens has posted a .050 ISO through 22 plate appearances this season with a .285 wOBA.

The Cubs have proven that they can hang with the contenders of the National League through the early portion of the schedule but they need to be willing to make roster decisions that place them in the best position to succeed. Rios and Torrens are taking up roster spots that aren't being utilized and the team needs to be willing to reward the dominance that Mervis and Morel have shown at Triple-A Iowa.

Torrens is out of minor-league options and waiving him would clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Mervis. Rios has one minor-league option remaining and that would allow the Cubs to easily switch him out with Morel on the 26-man roster. Mervis would give the Cubs the true left-handed power hitter that they need and Morel gives the team another outfield option while also possessing the power that they lack.

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