Everyone loves to talk about the big-name free agents and trade targets, but there are plenty of hitters who might not get the attention that could be useful additions to the Chicago Cubs.
I think we would have all loved to see the Chicago Cubs go get Juan Soto or Shohei Ohtani, but now that both of those ships have sailed it might be time to look at some other options to add to the Chicago Cubs offense. The biggest areas of needs for the team are slugging and finding reliable guys at the corners. The guys on this list will either fill both or one of those needs. Let’s take a look.
Even at the ripe old age of 38 years old, Justin Turner put up yet another solid year at the plate. He accrued 23 HR, 96 RBI, 31 doubles, and a slash line of .276/.345/.455. All of that work was good for a wRC+ of 114, meaning he was 14% better than league average at the plate. He isn’t the guy he once was during his prime in LA hitting over .300 with 130+ wRC seasons and making All-Star games, but he could still be a solid contributor on a good team.
He has of course some regression as he has aged, but his statcast data is still at least average or above in everything and he continues not chase, whiff, or strikeout. The biggest downside outside of age and the fear of the sudden fall off is that he isn’t a very viable on defense. He can still play below-average first, but third base is out of the question. With as much trouble as the Chicago Cubs had at first base for much of the season last year, his below average glove and above average bat could be a welcomed addition.
The now 13-year MLB vet has put together a very solid yet very underrated career. His first season in the AL and as a Blue Jay was a successful for the 35 year old. He put up a classic Belt slashline of .254/.369/.490 to go with 19 home runs, 43 RBIs. His 138 wRC+ would be good enough for the 4th best wRC+ of his career. His chase and walk% were both in at least the 96th percentile and he still has the ability to barrel the ball and find the sweet spot as those both came in at the 91st and 99th percentiles, respectively. I think he has always been underrated due to a couple factors. One, he has never been a big home run hitter. He has just one season of at least 20 HR as he would hit 29 in 2021. Also, the east coast bias of playing out west most of his career. Most people didn’t see him play many games when his San Fran first pitches weren’t until after 10PM out east.
All that bias could help the Chicago Cubs secure a very solid and respectable first baseman. Over his career, he has proven to be at least close to average against lefties so a platoon based on ability isn’t a total must. However, his injury history would make either a platoon or a decent backup plan the smart play. He has missed at least 50 games in six of the twelve full MLB season he has played in. Adding a couple veterans from this list in Turner and Belt to play first could be an interesting play for the Chicago Cubs. Either way, Belt isn’t a guy to overlook.
Yes, I am suggesting the Chicago Cubs should consider Joey Gallo. Is he flawed? Yes, he absolutely is and might just be the most flawed hitter in the entire league. However, there might be a handful of players in the entire league who possess the game-changing light-tower power that Gallo does. He did improve from his abysmal 2021 season in 2022. He raised his slash line from .160/.280/.357 to .177/.301/.440. He would also slug 21 home runs, which was two more than in 2021 in 70 fewer at-bats. His Statcast page still remains one of the craziest to look at. Even though he wasn’t technically qualified he was still in the 95+ percentile for average exit velocity, barrel percentage, hard hit rate, and walk rate. Basically, he has immense trouble hitting the ball, but when he does he hits it as hard, and as far, as anyone. Should he not get his pitch, he will gladly take his walk. Even with his abysmal K rate of nearly 43%, he still had a wRC+ of 104.
An added bonus with Gallo is he is a strong and versatile defender. He is a two-time Gold Glover who has proven he can man all three outfield positions as well first base and hold his own. With the construction of the Chicago Cubs roster, he would be best used as a strong side platoon at first base and as a guy who could spell Happ, Seiya, and whoever plays center field. It might now be an easy watch at all times, but a Wisdom/Gallo combo at first would certainly be a powerful duo who could easily push for 40+ homers in an offense that needs some thump.
In the end, none of these guys should be the “big” bat that the Chicago Cubs add to their lineup. Each of them have their own flaws that make them a sort of lower level option, but each of them could help solve some of Chicago Cubs deficiencies they showed in 2023.
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