Cubs going all-in on Matt Mervis would be wildly irresponsible

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

The Cubs definitely have a hole to fill at the first base position, but relying solely on Matt Mervis would not be an intelligent baseball decision. There are multiple first base free agents the team can sign that would make an impact in the lineup - including José Abreu, Josh Bell and Trey Mancini. Before going into that, let's take a look at Matt Mervis.

According to the prospect rankings through, Mervis is the Cubs' 21st-ranked prospect. He is also projected to make his debut in a Cubs uniform sometime in 2023. At 24 years old, Mervis is the cause for a lot of excitement heading into next season, and that is not unwarranted. After a rough first year of professional baseball where he slashed .208/.310/.367, Mervis turned it around this past season.

Starting at High-A, he performed well enough to earn a promotion to Double-A and wound up ending the season with Triple-A Iowa. In all three levels combined he slashed .309/.379/.605. He made a significant improvement to his power output, as well, hitting 36 home runs with 119 runs batted in, also adding 40 doubles.

Matt Mervis could very well be the lefty power-hitting first baseman the Cubs need going forward. That doesn't mean Chicago should put all its eggs in that basket right away, though. Let's remember: 2022 was only his second year of professional baseball. He did make good strides towards becoming a big leaguer, and it was both exciting and encouraging to see him play well, but with limited games at each level due to promotion, teams never really had the chance to make that adjustment to him.

Another cause for concern is he is a left-handed bat who struggles against left-handed pitching according to his scouting report. A right-handed bat, or a switch hitter in the case of Bell, will allow the Cubs relief when a lefty is scheduled to start. Mervis is also not yet on the 40-man roster. The good news is he does not have to be because he is not yet eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Leaving him off allows the front office to sign a few more free agents, and with their positional needs, a first baseman could definitely be among them.

Three first baseman the Cubs are rumored to be interested in

There are three first baseman the Cubs are targeting that could fit into the middle of the order and help Mervis develop at the position. NBC Sports Chicago noted the Cubs had met with Abreu, Mancini and Bell. All three of these first basemen would, at the very least, bridge the gap as Mervis (hopefully) settles in at the big league level.

Abreu could easily fill the first base role. He has been healthy his whole career, and last year hit .304 with a .378 on base percentage while slugging .446. Although his power numbers were down last year, he still had 75 RBI. He has the ability to drive in runs in the middle of the order, and it is not expected that he will hit fewer than 20 home runs in 2023. At 35 years old, he could be a great short-term option.

Mancini was traded midseason from the Orioles to the Astros in 2022. He was a better all-around player in Baltimore, though. He hit .268 compared to just a .176 mark with Houston, while also posting better on-base and slugging numbers. However, if you dive deeper into the power aspect of his game, Mancini had less at-bats per home run in Houston with one long ball every 20 at-bats. This is largely due to the fences being pushed back in Baltimore, but it is a positive to know he is still capable of the long ball. He is only 30, but a short-term deal is on the horizon for him, and the Cubs could be the team to give it to him.

Bell, as I noted earlier, is the other first baseman the Cubs were in contact with. He is a reliable switch-hitting middle of the order bat. He did not benefit from the trade to the Padres in 2022 as his numbers got worse, and his power dropped significantly. Still, he was able to produce a season average of .266 with 17 home runs and 71 RBI. He also hit better from the right side of the plate. With a full season in Chicago, he could produce 20+ home runs while still hitting for a great average. He might be the first baseman who gets the longest deal as he also only 30 and represents one of the best options on the market right now.

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Mervis needs time to develop. The Cubs need to find a first baseman to fill in as he does. If Mervis becomes a big leaguer sooner rather than later in 2023, having that first baseman there to help him and take off some of the pressure is going to beneficial for both him and the team. If Mervis proves to be the player the Cubs want him to be, you could mix and match at DH and first base. If the Cubs want to contend next year, they need to make sure they're not betting heavily on Mervis in 2023.