Cubs To Sign Trey Mancini
The Cubs have agreed to sign Trey Mancini to a two-year contract, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN ( Twitter link ). Mancini, a Frontline agency client, can opt out of the deal after the 2023 season if he accumulates at least 350 plate appearances in the first year of the contract, 670 Bruce Levine of The Score reports (via Twitter ). Also from Levine, Mancini will earn $14 million in guaranteed money over the two years of the deal, and another $7 million is available in license plate bonus clauses.
Reports linking Mancini to the Cubs first surfaced in December, and even though Chicago addressed its first base need by signing Eric Hosmer just over a week ago, the Wrigleyville club continued to be interested in Mancini’s services. Of course, Mancini can also play both corner outfield spots in addition to first base, and Mancini’s right-handed bat provides a nice complement to lefty-swingers Hosmer and Matt Mervis in the first base/DH mix.
As Rogers indicated in a follow-up tweet, Mervis may now be slated to start 2023 in Triple-A, rather than immediately stepping into a regular role in the Cubs’ lineup in his first taste of MLB action. Mervis is entering just his third season of affiliate baseball, and while Mervis pretty much came out of nowhere to tear up the minor leagues in 2022, it appears the Cubs would prefer to ease Mervis into the big leagues and relied more on known veterans. both Mancini and Hosmer at least through the start of the 2023 campaign.
After spending his entire career with the Orioles, Mancini is now playing for his third organization in less than six months following the trade deadline move that sent Mancini from Baltimore to Houston. Mancini’s time with the Astros paid off in the biggest way possible as Houston captured the World Series, although Mancini himself wasn’t a big part of that championship push. Mancini hit just .176/.258/.364 over 186 plate appearances with the Astros during the regular season, and then had just a single hit over 24 PA in the playoffs.
With that underwhelming finish in mind, it’s no surprise that Mancini and his representatives demanded an opt-out clause, as a more impressive platform year could set Mancini up for a more expensive contract next winter. Mancini turns 31 in March, but even if he re-enters the market next winter ahead of his age-32 season, the veteran should still be in position to land a solid multi-year commitment if he returns to his old form. Mancini hasn’t been in top form since 2019, although obviously some very difficult circumstances have interfered with his career path.
After missing the entire 2020 season due to a battle with stage 3 colon cancer, Mancini played in 147 games with the Orioles in 2021, earning AL Comeback Player of the Year honors for his inspiring comeback. Mancini got off to a strong start at the plate that year before fading as he had to re-acclimate after missing a full season. Mancini’s traditionally strong production at Camden Yards took a dip, as the right-hander was naturally affected by the Orioles’ decision to move behind the left field fences ahead of the 2022 season. The result was a modest .283/. 338/.411 over 198 PA at Camden Yards last year, well below his career rates.
Overall, Mancini has hit .247/.323/.412 over 1,203 PA since the start of the 2021 campaign, which translates to a 104 wRC+ that is just slightly above league average. Between the new dimensions in Baltimore and the midseason adjustment to play in Houston, Mancini’s bat could be reawakened simply by playing his home games in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Moreover, Mancini has already had a full and normal season, as last winter’s preparations were also interrupted by the lockout.
It’s been a busy offseason for Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, who has aggressively added veteran talent in order to get the Cubs back into contention after most of the last two seasons were spent in a reconstruction. Like Mancini’s deal, most of the contracts have been short-term deals, such as a one-year deal with Cody Bellinger, or signing Hosmer for a minimum salary (since the Padres are still waiting on the remainder of Hosmer’s contract).
Beyond these shorter deals, Chicago also gave away Dansby Swanson to a seven-year, $177 million contract and Jameson Taillon to a four-year deal worth $68 million. Roster Resource projected the Cubs for a payroll of roughly $176.6 million before Mancini’s $7 million average annual value was added to the mix, so there could be more spending capacity for further moves considering the Cubs spent well over $200 million by 2019.
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