Chicago Cubs Rumors: Team has interest in Kevin Kiermaier

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs are in the market for a free-agent centerfielder this offseason and they have a few to choose from. Brandon Nimmo and Cody Bellinger are going to generate a majority of the interest, but there are some quality players that are going to fly under the radar. Kevin Kiermaier is one of those players, and the Cubs have expressed some interest in him.

The three-time Gold Glove award winner had his club option declined by the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this offseason making him a free agent. Kiermaier has been rehabbing a hip surgery that cut his 2022 season short. In 2022 he slashed just .228/.281/.369 with 7 home runs and 22 RBI. He has never been known for his offensive production, though. In 10 years with the Rays, he hit .248 with 82 home runs and 316 RBI. Kiermaier, instead, is one of the best defensive outfielders in the league, and he has a 2015 American League Platinum Glove to prove that.

The worry here for Kiermaier is his injuries. After the 2015 season, he has only played over 100 games just 3 times (49 in the 2020 shortened season). The hip injury this past season could be cause for some hesitation because you never know how an outfielder might recover from a lower-body injury. However, in an article by the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier mentioned that he is optimistic about his recovery and excited to get back on the field in full health for the first time in a long time. In that same article, The Rays said the timetable for a return is 6-7 months after surgery. This would put his return right at the end of spring training or the beginning of the 2023 season.

Kevin Kiermaier is not a big name but could provide value for the Chicago Cubs this offseason.

The Cubs will want a better offensive output from the 10-year veteran, but you can not deny his defensive presence and the impact it could make. Despite the injuries, Kiermaier could be offered a short-term contract. His contract with the Rays would have paid him $13 million if they did not buy him out, so a similar salary number in 2023 can be expected. The Cubs have already said they will spend intelligently this offseason, and if they do not get the value they want with some of the other centerfield options, Kiermaier will be the cheaper choice. Giving Kiermaier a 1-year contract to prove his worth is something the Cubs should explore this winter.

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Kiermaier's offensive output has been low, and his injuries have been a problem, but he is convinced he will be fully healthy once he rehabs from surgery. An outfield with two previous Gold Glove winners in Happ and potentially Kiermaier is going to generate a lot of defensive runs saved. He is not the big name some Cubs fans want, but with a cheaper short-term contract, he could end up being a diamond in the rough.