Cubs Officially Sign Veteran OF Steven Souza Jr.

Update: The Cubs have officially announced the Souza deal, which has a $1 million base salary with $1 million in potential non-IL roster bonuses incentives and another $1 million in performance escalators. Guess that means they may need to clear up to $3 million elsewhere.

From earlier: Break out the bubbly, the Cubs have finally agreed to an MLB deal. On second thought, you may want to keep it corked until the physical is complete and the ink is dry. Anyway, read on for a little more about the Cubs’ new outfielder.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are close to a deal with veteran outfielder Steven Souza Jr., who was actually connected with them earlier in the offseason. He’ll turn 31 in April and didn’t play in 2019 after undergoing knee reconstruction surgery, plus he missed most of the 2018 season due to a right pec strain. Maybe not ideal in a a more robust offseason, but a decent fit for the Cubs’ needs at this point.

If we’re looking on the bright side, Souza mashed 30 homers in 2017 and has a career OBP that sits 90 points higher than his batting average. Trouble is, that OBP is still just .323 and his .740 OPS with a 103 wRC+ says he’s been little more than an average hitter over the course of 1,809 plate appearances. The same is true for his performance in the field, where he’s primarily played right and center in MLB after beginning his professional career as an infielder.

When you really get down to it, Souza is basically Kyle Schwarber with less power and not as much ability to reach base. Ah, but that means he’s probably not looking for a big contract, which is what makes him attractive to the Cubs. He’s also a right-handed platoon option for what is currently a left-handed-heavy outfield, especially in the corners, which is important. Ken Rosenthal subsequently tweeted that this will be a major league deal, which would be the Cubs’ first of the winter.

The Cubs cleared space on the 40-man roster earlier in the day when they outrighted lefty C.D. Pelham to Triple-A Iowa after he cleared waivers. In the absence of big trades or acquisitions, these low-key strategic transactions are going to have to suffice. And when you consider the potential for Souza and some of the minor league signings to really pay off, the Cubs are at least getting some low-risk value in the offseason.

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