The Chicago Cubs announced Friday night that they agreed to terms with 3B/1B/DH Patrick Wisdom, avoiding arbitration. Wisdom, 32, entered the 2023-2024 offseason being arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career. He was given a reported $2.725 million contract after slashing .205/.289/.500 with 23 home runs, .789 OPS, and 109 wRC+ in 2023. His 23 home runs in 97 games equated to roughly a 38-homer pace in 162 games.
Last season was full of peaks and valleys for Wisdom. In April, July, and August, he posted an OPS over .900 in each of those months. In May he posted a .637 OPS and in June he put up an abysmal .269 OPS and 59% strikeout rate (-18 wRC+). If you take away June, he posted a 122 wRC+ and .840 OPS over the 88 games he played outside of that month.
There were still questions if Wisdom was going to be tendered a deal. He has consistently displayed some serious power with the Cubs going back to 2021, hitting 76 home runs with a .772 OPS and 107 OPS+ in 337 games. In each of his past three seasons, he eclipsed the 20-homer mark. With that said, the low average (.214) and OBP (.298) coupled with a high strikeout rate (37%) in his MLB career makes him an "all or nothing" player. Not to mention defensive regression at the hot corner, where he was very efficient in 2021 but dipped to a -5 DRS (defensive runs saved) defender at third in 2023.
There is nothing we don't know about Wisdom. He is who he is, and that is not going to change. He will be a bat that can crush homers while striking out a lot. The peaks and valleys we saw in 2023 are pretty much par for the course. Wisdom is not an everyday player, but simply depth. Even if not an everyday guy with massive holes in the swing, the fact is he's 20+ home run power for under $3 million. Not to mention a cheap deal like this does not tie them to Wisdom if he does not bring any value in 2024, the Cubs can easily move on at any time with no financial loss.
It will be interesting to see how Craig Counsell potentially uses Wisdom when/if he is on the roster. It seemed he was not always used properly last year, but Counsell has worked in "all or nothing" type players into his lineups well in Milwaukee. While he was more of an everyday player, Rowdy Tellez, who hit 35 home runs and hit .219 with a .306 OBP in 2022 was properly utilized in Counsell's lineup. Even in a limited role, there is great confidence in Counsell properly using Wisdom.
In the end, there is nothing wrong with cheaper depth that can produce legitimate power. This should not alarm anyone to think they will not make big moves or that they will rely on him having a bigger role than necessary. He might not even get any guaranteed playing time with the Cubs next year, he's just depth insurance for the time being.