The Cubs made their biggest move of the winter, handing down their most expensive deal since Jason Heyward when they agreed to terms with Dansby Swanson on Saturday. That signing creates what could be the best middle infield in baseball defensively, but Swanson can only be counted on to produce slightly above-average offense. The likelihood that the Cubs will also get a starter to grab the glove, I still say it will be Tucker Barnhart and I think they will make a move soon, makes it imperative that they add pop elsewhere.
Bruce Levine talked about that when he joined Lance Brozdowski on Marquee Sports Network’s Cubs 360 show Saturday afternoon. When Ryan Dempster’s 2023 lineup was unveiled, Levine suggested what might change.
“Michael Conforto is missing from this lineup,” Levine said. “Ultimately, I think a guy like Conforto is going to be there because they need a DH, they need someone to work with Mervis. There are other names that will also come out, but the line-up looks better.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Conforto’s name linked to the Cubs this offseason, with Jon Heyman recently mentioning the team’s potential pursuit. There have been suggestions that the addition of a left-handed hitter could mean the Cubs are one trying to get around Ian Happ as he heads into his final season in charge of the club, though there is still a chance extend Happ at a reasonable rate. Given the DH spot, their success on a long-term deal will have a lot more to do with Happ’s future than just signing Conforto.
Another very interesting wrinkle to note here is that the Cubs have already added a client to Scott Boras, who is looking to rebuild his value after shoulder surgery. Cody Bellinger is emerging as an everyday center fielder and can also play first base, so the template is set. Levine noted that Conforto will be a mentor of sorts for Matt Mervis, who will be a professional hitter rather than a first baseman.
If the Cubs decide to find someone who is more of a role model from a positional standpoint, they could choose Trey Mancini. The right-handed hitter has spent plenty of time at first and DH, so he’ll be able to serve as a traditional platoon partner while providing decent power. Levine mentioned Mancini on 670 The Score Saturday morning, and it appears the connection has legs.
We should note that Levine used the phrase “like someone” before both names dropped, so this seems like one of those situations where the Cubs are still scouting a few players to see how they fit. The issue is getting them to accept a deal the Cubs deem acceptable. Both Mancini and Conforto would suit up individually and could make sense based on how the current roster stacks up.
With Swanson in the fold, there seems to be strong momentum to make these other moves quickly.