The Chicago Cubs remain in the market for a middle-of-the-order bat and recent rumors have pushed free-agent outfielder Michael Conforto and free-agent first baseman Trey Mancini to the top of their wish list. Earlier today, we took a look at who might be the better fit for the Cubs and the conclusion was that Conforto, if healthy, could provide more offensive value for the Cubs in 2023 than Mancini. The issue for Conforto and the Cubs is that there is not a clear position for him to play on a regular basis.
For Mancini, the fit is much more natural for the Cubs. While Mancini has the ability to play in either of the corner outfield spots, he is a first baseman by trade. First base has been a question mark for the Cubs since the trade of Anthony Rizzo to the New York Yankees in 2021. 2022 prospect sensation Matt Mervis is expected to be included in the Cubs' solution for first base in 2023 but it would be wise for the team to have some insurance at the position in case there are struggles from Mervis. Mancini would certainly be that insurance policy for the Cubs while also giving them a clear designated hitter candidate that can also play multiple positions.
In other words, the Cubs currently have the best offer on the table for Mancini and his agent is trying to drum up a little more money before he makes a decision. This is similar to the reporting that we had seen for Dansby Swanson as he was nearing his decision to sign with the Cubs, so it would seem that Mancini's free-agency decision is nearing.
For the 2023 season, FanGraphs Steamer projections have Mancini with a .244/.321/.409/.731 slash line including a .320 wOBA and a 107 wRC+. Mancini did struggle considerably after the trade to the Houston Astros last season but over the course of his career, Mancini has a wOBA of .336. For reference, here is how FanGraphs defines wOBA with .320 considered to be the base:
"Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively."- FanGraphs
Mancini has a high-floor as an offensive player and that is the exact profile that the Cubs need as they fill out their lineup.