Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Cubs Add Power Bat On The Cheap


Now past the August 2nd trade deadline, many Cubs fans were elated when the club decided against trading All-Stars Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. What happens next with Contreras specifically remains to be seen. The starting catcher for the National League All-Stars, Contreras, is arguably having his best year as a Cub. The fact that Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer and General Manager Carter Hawkins weren’t ready to deal Contreras at the deadline, unlike superstars Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javy Baez last year, signals that the Cubs are open to resigning Contreras. That, or they weren’t satisfied with trade offers at the deadline. Not to mention the backlash from Cubs fans over trading one of the last 2016 World Series winners in his prime. Either way, Contreras will finish 2022 as a Cub.  So the logical question became, what’s next for the Cubs?

Cubs Claim Slugger Franmil Reyes

A year after hitting 30 home runs and setting career highs in RBIs and WAR (wins above replacement), few expected 27-year-old designed hitter/outfielder Franmil Reyes to be designated for assignment (cut from the major league roster) by the Cleveland Guardians. But that’s precisely what happened last week. Reyes, predominately a designated hitter, owns a career .253 average. He’s spent the previous four seasons with the Indians/Guardians since coming over in a 2019 trade with the San Diego Padres. That year, he mashed 37 home runs between the two clubs. He’s hit at least 30 home runs in two of the last three seasons, with the covid-shortened 2020 season being the only outlier. Power has never been the problem for Reyes, at least until this year.

Reyes’ Struggles Open Door For Cubs

As good as Reyes’ power numbers have been throughout his career, when the power goes away, so does nearly all of his value. At 6’5″ and 265 lbs., Reyes looks as much like a defense end as a baseball player. This year, he’s hitting just .217 with nine home runs and 104 strikeouts. To put that in perspective, he’s striking out more than 37% of his at-bats. Whether it’s injury, a lack of focus, or something else, Reyes hasn’t been the same player.  Cleveland Guardians Manager Terry Francona commented on Reyes’ DFA, telling MLB.com that he just hasn’t been the same player:

“Franmil wasn’t getting to the fastballs, and the breaking balls he hit were going for singles…There weren’t many home runs. It was tough. It was difficult.” Terry Francona, Cleveland guardians manager

Franmil Reyes Gets Fresh Start; Cubs Get Cheap Flier on Possible 2023 DH

For the Cubs, claiming Reyes was a no-brainer. He’s only owed $1.5 million for the rest of the season and will be arbitration-eligible this offseason. He’s unlikely to make the $4.5M that he’s making this season, mostly because he’s regressed as a player. For the Cubs, it’s a small price to pay for a closer look at a power bat on a roster devoid of them. It’s the type of move the Cubs should be making; taking a flier on a player who has had success at the major league level. Down 21 games in the NL Central, it’s nice to see the Cubs thinking about next year already. If they can return Reyes to his 2021 form, the Cubs will have likely found themselves a power-hitting designated hitter on the cheap.

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