Yonathan Perlaza to Remain in Cubs Org for 2023, Providing Much-Needed OF Depth

What had been viewed as an area of depth for the Cubs organization took a huge hit over the last few days with injury updates on Alexander Canario and Brennen Davis. Canario suffered a broken left ankle and dislocated left shoulder on a nasty misstep at first base Thursday evening that could keep him off the field for several months. Davis hadn’t played in an Arizona Fall League game since being lifted on October 10 and it’s been revealed that he’s suffering from back tightness.

Regardless of whether and how quickly those two can return to action, their absence muddies the water for Jed Hoyer and the front office as they seek to turn the Cubs into contenders next season. That’s why Bryan Smith’s note on Yonathan Perlaza over at Bleacher Nation is so encouraging. Perlaza would have been eligible for minor league free agency at the conclusion of the World Series, but Smith reports that an agreement has been reached to bring the 23-year-old back in 2023.

Terms of the deal aren’t known at this point and Smith notes that there are several possibilities due to Perlaza’s Rule 5 Draft eligibility, so we’ll have to wait to learn more. A switch-hitting corner outfielder who was signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Perlaza made his stateside debut in 2017 and earned a promotion to short-season Eugene in 2018.

It took him parts of five seasons to get past A-ball, but he broke out in a big way with Double-A Tennessee this past season. That breakout really started last year at South Bend, where his power finally showed up. After hitting a total of six home runs in 768 minor league plate appearances, Perlaza hammered 15 dingers in 404 PAs at High-A. He had 23 with the Smokies this season while keeping his strikeouts in check and walking at a 13.2% clip.

After beginning his professional career as a middle infielder, Perlaza shifted to the outfield on a full-time basis with South Bend in 2019. He’s now primarily a right fielder and has logged more time there than at any other position, with a fair bit of run in left as well. He isn’t a possible solution for the Cubs’ temporary gap in center, though he could serve as depth should Ian Happ be traded or injured.

Perlaza doesn’t carry nearly as much hype as some of the other outfielders in the system because of that relatively pedestrian output in the early going. If he can keep improving those power numbers, however, his versatility could earn him a shot in Chicago this coming season.

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