Cubs add an intriguing power bat in waiver claim
The Cubs have spent a lot of effort reworking their lineup in recent seasons, aiming for more contact — and with it, they hoped more consistency.
They’re still building up the offense, but they’ve generally taken steps forward in the contact column and a full season of Nico Hoerner has certainly helped (no player in the National League is harder to strike out than Hoerner).
That being said, Jed Hoyer sees a clear area for growth for this offense moving forward — power.
“This year, we put the ball on the ground way too often,” Hoyer said in an interview in Cubs Live! last week. “We’ve gotten on base, we’ve done a good job of grinding at-bats but finishing off rallies, too many double plays, not enough power in some ways.”
The Cubs didn’t wait until the offseason to address the power issue.
After the Cleveland Guardians designated DH/outfielder Franmil Reyes for assignment last week, the Cubs claimed the slugger on waivers.
Reyes just turned 27 in July and has a pair of 30-homer seasons under his belt in the big leagues. The right-hander mashed 37 dingers in 2019 with the Padres and Cleveland and then crushed 30 more with the Guardians last season.
Cubs GM Carter Hawkins was in the front office in Cleveland for the last few seasons prior to 2022, so he is very familiar with Reyes.
“We’re in a position to take some chances and get some offense with some guys who might be struggling and have a past history of some success,” David Ross said.
Reyes has struggled throughout 2022 with a .213/.254/.350 slash line (.603 OPS) and 9 homers in 280 plate appearances. His is striking out more than he has in his career (37.1%) and is walking less (5%).
But this is a player who averaged 36 homers per 162 games in the previous four years and had a .260/.325/.503 slash line (.828 OPS). The Cubs are hoping they can help him return to that form.
“He was struggling in Cleveland,” Hoyer said. “So we need to get him back and get him get him going. It’s the ability to score quickly. I think we’ve lacked that all year. It’s rare to see a team that has the on-base percentage we have and then not be able to score runs.
“But part of that is too many double plays and the ball on the ground and part of that is not being able to strike quickly. I think you need that. I love the on-base skills and some of the grinding at-bats but we’ve lacked power and he can certainly bring that.”
Reyes is due the remainder of his $4.55 million salary for this season and if the move pays off, he is under team control through 2024.
Reyes has seen most of his time in the big leagues at DH but can also play right field. He figures to slot in as an option for the Cubs’ DH spot over the next two months.
“Looking at some of the video and some of the history seeing him play, he can be a real all-fields type hitter in a power body,” Ross said. “He’s got the ability to hit home runs but I think him getting back to using all fields, driving the ball gap-to-gap is where he’s at his best and then the homers show up. Hopefully we can get him back to that.”