Chicago Cubs lessen Eric Hosmer's playing time at first base as Matt Mervis looms
Last week, we discussed the hot start that veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer had to the 2023 season with the Chicago Cubs and how Hosmer was creating runs for the offense. Within that same story, we also touched on how Hosmer had a hot start to the 2022 season with the San Diego Padres before seeing his offensive numbers regress in May.
The calendar has not flipped to the month of May yet but Hosmer's regression has begun. Hosmer is now hitting .250/.318/.300 on the season through 44 plate appearances with a 73 wRC+ and .285 wOBA.
Entering the season, the Cubs had already had a preliminary discussion surrounding Hosmer's spot on the active roster as Edwin Rios' Spring Training performance made them question how much of a need the team had for Hosmer at first base given his lack of positional flexibility. Still, the Cubs began the season moving forward with their intention of Hosmer being their everyday first baseman while Trey Mancini shifted between the outfielder and designated hitter spots.
While Rios' playing time has been sparse so far this season, the Cubs may be moving forward with their preparations for life without Hosmer. Over the course of the past week, Hosmer has been penciled into the lineup as the team's designated hitter more frequently while Mancini has been getting the nod at first base. On the surface, it would be a strange choice as despite the regression from his previous Gold Glove form, Hosmer is still the better fielder at first base than Mancini. However, it could be a sign that the team is preparing for a promotion of first base prospect Matt Mervis.
Mervis has the look of a prospect that is ready for the Major League level. Looking beyond the 3 home runs, .293 ISO, and 159 wRC+ that Mervis has posted in Triple-A Iowa this season, the most impressive aspect of his start to the 2023 season with the Iowa Cubs is that he is walking at a 22.8% clip.
A promotion for Mervis will likely come at the expense of Hosmer's roster part. Along those lines, a promotion of Mervis would also mean that Mancini would be getting regular playing time at first base. That could be what has driven the Cubs' preference to have Mancini start at first base over this recent stretch of games.