The Chicago Cubs are reportedly showing interest in free-agent second baseman, Jason Kipnis, but signing him would make very little sense.
Remember when Jason Kipnis had that terrifying foul ball in the bottom half of the ninth inning of Game 7 in the 2016 World Series? I apologize for any recurring post-traumatic stress, but at the time, it initially looked like Kipnis had ended the game while breaking Chicago Cubs fans’ hearts everywhere. The 32-year-old Northbrook, Illinois native, is reportedly drawing interest from the hometown club, as second base has no clear answer with Spring Training now just days away.
As noted, the Cubs have a plethora of options currently on their roster for the position including, but not limited to, Nico Hoerner, David Bote, Daniel Descalso, Ian Happ, among others. However, Kipnis would likely not offer anything better than what’s currently under contract. He’s been a below-league average player for the better part of three seasons, recording a wRC+ above 100 last in 2016.
That year, he slashed .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs and 82 RBI (114 wRC+) but has hovered around an 85 wRC+ since then. His walk percentage and ISO stats have dipped substantially since 2016, and while he earned just $2.5 million last year, adding him to the roster would only take away at-bats from those who need to continue developing.
Hoerner is likely the Opening Day starter at second until he proves that he cannot make the necessary adjustments throughout a full season. Bote would appear to be the next in line for the most at-bats, but he’s shown to be inconsistent. That word has been the definition of the Cubs since 2016, and accompanied by Kipnis’ trends of increased groundballs and pulled balls; the signing does not seem to fit with the direction that is needed.
The upcoming year is a critical year for Theo Epstein. He’s come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny since the World Series, signing bad contracts in repeated offseasons and combined with a lack of player development. And while many fans will simply be happy to have baseball back on February 22, all eyes will be on the open competitions in camp.