Chicago Cubs Rumors: Dominic Smith may be next signing

Jul 6, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; New York Mets designated hitter Dominic Smith (2) reacts in the
Jul 6, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; New York Mets designated hitter Dominic Smith (2) reacts in the / David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off the heels of signing free-agent center fielder Cody Bellinger to a one-year deal worth $17.5 million, the Chicago Cubs may have their sights on a first base target. New York Mets beat reporter Anthony DiComo reports from the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings that the Cubs may have former Mets first baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith on their radar.

After slashing .316/.377/.616/.993 with the Mets in 199 plate appearances during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Smith's offensive production has regressed considerably in the years sense. The struggles for Smith reached a new low in 2022 as he compiled a slash line of .194/.276/.284/.560 with 0 home runs.

Given the struggles that Smith has had, it seems unlikely that the money involved in a potential signing would be anything of consequence. For the Cubs, the move would represent taking a flier on a hitter with the hope that they can unlock the previous offensive success they had. David Sadler of thinks there could be some merit toward Smith bouncing back in 2023 given the ban on defensive shifts.

"Smith is looking to bounce back to the hitter he was in 2019 and '20 (150 OPS+), before he struggled in his last two seasons with the Mets while not getting regular at-bats (78 OPS+). Maybe hitting shift-free somewhere else in 2023 will help. The lefty-swinging Smith started seeing more and more shifts after he started slugging more. That took its toll. In 2019, Smith was shifted on under half of his plate appearances, and broke out with a 132 OPS+. The next year, teams made a minor defensive adjustment to 51% shifts, still far from the most-shifted left-handed hitters. He posted a 168 OPS+ and got MVP votes. In that 2020 season, Smith really started driving the ball to the pull field. Over two-thirds of his hits, and over three quarters of his extra-base hits, were to the right side. Smith had the most extra-base hits to the pull half of the field of any left-handed hitter."

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While Smith could see some offensive success in 2023 as a result of the shift ban, the hope is that the former Mets' first baseman is a fallback option if the team is unable to land a free agent such as Trey Mancini. Otherwise, the Cubs might as well move forward with Matt Mervis being the primary first baseman in 2023.