Cubs sign Trey Mancini

The Cubs have agreed to sign Trey Mancini according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers (Twitter link). Mancini, a client of the Frontline agency, can waive the deal after the 2023 season if he amass at least 350 at bats in the first year of the contract, Bruce Levine of The Score (670) reports.through Twitter). Also from Levine, Mancini will earn $14 million in guaranteed money over the two years of the deal, and an additional $7 million is available in bonus clauses related to record appearances.

Reports linking Mancini to the Cubs first surfaced in December, and while Chicago met its first basic need by Eric Hosmer just over a week ago, the Wrigleyville club remained interested in Mancini’s services. Of course, Mancini can play both corners in the outfield in addition to first base, and Mancini’s right-handed bat nicely complements left-handed swingers Hosmer and Matt Mervis in the first base/DH mix.

As Rogers pointed out a follow-up tweet, Mervis may now be slated to start 2023 in Triple-A, rather than immediately becoming a regular in the Cubs lineup in his first taste of MLB action. Mervis is entering only his third season of affiliate baseball, and while Mervis more or less came out of nowhere to destroy minor league pitching in 2022, it seems the Cubs prefer to take Mervis to the major leagues. and relying more on established veterans like Mancini and Hosmer at least early in the 2023 campaign.

Having spent 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 utmost form as Houston captured the World Series, though Mancini himself was not a huge part of that championship drive. Mancini hit just .176/.258/.364 over 186 at bats with the Astros during the regular season, then only had one hit over 24 PA in the playoffs.

With this disappointing finish in mind, it’s not surprising that Mancini and his reps sought an opt-out clause, as a more impressive platform year could make Mancini beautiful for a more expensive contract next winter. Mancini turns 31 in March, but even if he re-enters next winter ahead of his 32-year season, the veteran should still be able to make a solid multi-year commitment when he returns to his old form. Mancini hasn’t been in that top form since 2019, although some very difficult circumstances have naturally disrupted his career.

After missing the entire 2020 season due to a battle with stage 3 colon cancer, Mancini appeared in 147 games with the Orioles in 2021, winning AL Comeback Player Of The Year honors for his inspiring return. Mancini got off to a strong start at the plate that year before slowly declining as he had to readjust after missing a full season. Mancini’s traditionally strong production at Camden Yards took a dive, as the right-handed hitter was naturally affected by the Orioles’ decision to replace the left-field fences ahead of the 2022 season. The result was a modest .283/.338/.411 slash over 198 PA at Camden Yards last year, well below his career standards.

Overall, Mancini has hit .247/.323/.412 over 1203 PA since the start of the 2021 campaign, translating to a 104 wRC+ that is only slightly above the league average. Between the New Dimensions in Baltimore and the mid-season adjustment to playing in Houston, Mancini’s bat was able to wake up again simply by playing his home games at Wrigley Field’s Friendly Confines. In addition, Mancini has now had a full and normal off-season, as even last winter’s preparations were interrupted by the lockout.

It’s been a busy off-season for Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, who has aggressively added veteran entrants to drive the Cubs back into contention after spending most of the past two seasons in a rebuild. As with Mancini’s deal, most of the contracts were shorter term deals, such as a one-year deal with Cody Bellingeror the Hosmer signing for minimum wage (since the Padres are still on the hook for the remainder of Hosmer’s contract).

In addition to these shorter deals, Chicago also splurged on ink Dansby Swanson to a seven-year, $177 million contract and Jameson Taillon to a four-year deal worth $68 million. Roster Resource predicted the Cubs would earn about $176.6 million before adding Mancini’s $7 million average annual worth to the mix, so there could be more spending capacity for further moves as the Cubs earned well above $200 in 2019 million spent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today sports footage

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