Chicago Cubs News: Mark Leiter Jr returns, Eric Hosmer, and more
The Chicago Cubs made a minor move on Thursday as Mark Leiter Jr returned to the organization on a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training.
Leiter was designed for assignment by the Cubs last month to make room for veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer. As we noted in January, Leiter appeared to have found his footing as a reliever with the Cubs last season after struggling in his initial look as a starting pitcher. Leiter posted a 2.39 ERA in his final 20 appearances with the Cubs last season and he will be a good value for the team to have in Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs' decision to bring Leiter back may be tied to the steep asking prices being made by the veteran left-handed relievers on the market. Leiter, a right-handed pitcher, had reverse splits last season where he fared better against left-handed hitters as opposed to right-handed hitters. Lefties slashed .176/.243/.328 against Leiter last season.
Eric Hosmer firmly embedded as the team's starting first baseman
In case there was any doubt, the Cubs are entering the 2023 season with the firm idea that Eric Hosmer will be the team's every day first baseman.
"The Cubs are planning to go into the season with Eric Hosmer as their primary first baseman. Mancini is preparing to move around as a right-handed designated hitter who can play first base and both corner spots in the outfield. There could be DH at-bats for Mervis, a left-handed hitter who exploded as a prospect last year, generating 36 home runs, 119 RBIs and a .984 OPS at three minor-league affiliates. The Cubs respect Hosmer’s accomplishments as a Gold Glove/Silver Slugger winner who helped lead the Royals to back-to-back American League pennants and a 2015 World Series trophy. The Cubs needed more know-how at the major-league level and some left-handed options for their lineup."- Patrick Mooney via The Athletic
The update from Mooney was the latest indication that first base prospect Matt Mervis will start the season with Triple-A Iowa. Mervis is participating in the World Baseball Classic with Team Italy next month.
What is important to remember is that the Cubs are paying Hosmer the league minimum. While the Cubs may love the presence that Hosmer has in the clubhouse, there is no question that the team would be in the position to move on from the veteran in favor of Mervis in the event that the 33-year-old struggles to start the season.
Speaking of Mervis, the first base prospect is already in Arizona and he is mashing.
To that end, Nico Hoerner is also in Arizona and has this impressive home run shot.
Seiya Suzuki reports to Spring Training.
Chicago Cubs starting right fielder Seiya Suzuki will be participating in the World Baseball Classic next month with Team Japan and has reported to the Cubs' Spring Training facility in Arizona.