Cubs Interested in Mancini, Still Talking with Senga, Prioritizing Catcher
Even if the Cubs do end up making a big move at shortstop, which everyone in the media still seems to believe they can and will, most of their remaining moves will be of the roster-filling sort. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll just be looking for cheap deals, mind you, as it’s possible they could squeeze a little juice from players like JD Marinez and Justin Turner.
Another name we’ve discussed as a low-key solid addition is Trey Mancini, who 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine tweeted is of interest to the Cubs. Levine also noted Koudai Senga — we keep adding the u because for B-ref linking purposes, in case you were wondering — and we’ll touch on that in a bit.
Mancini has had a pair of down seasons and he really struggled down the stretch with the Astros, but he is beloved in Baltimore and across baseball after battling back from colon cancer to resume a productive career. Even though the Cubs could use more pop from the left side, being right-handed makes Mancini a little better platoon option with Matt Mervis at first base and DH.
It’s worth noting that David Kaplan also mentioned Mancini in response to a question on Twitter Friday night, plus he added Senga. Even if we account for the reality that both Kap and Levine are swimming in the same waters when it comes to sources, the overlap here is significant.
Correa and Swanson. Mancini. Kluber. Senga. And bullpen arms.
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) December 9, 2022
The big difference is Levine noting that the Cubs are prioritizing a catcher, though we’ve known that all along. Kap mentioned Corey Kluber, which we’ve also heard before. The shortstop situation is highlighted in both cases, obviously, and there’s a sense that the Cubs want to get that resolved in order to find out what they need to do elsewhere.
For instance, signing Dansby Swanson would mean being more intentional about adding offense in other areas. The possible pursuit of Mancini doesn’t do much to move the needle in that regard, what with his 105-ish wRC+ over the last two seasons. He’s got nearly identical career splits, however, and he actually hit righties better this past season, so he would be almost like adding a lefty bat. To me, he feels like a guy you’d sign if you felt like Correa was truly the plan.
Turner would likewise be an unconventional pseudo-lefty because his career numbers as a right-handed batter are better against righties. He’s also got a career 129 wRC+ and was at 123 as a 37-year-old over 532 plate appearances and can serve as at least a semi-regular third baseman when he’s not the DH. Hey, maybe the Cubs can get both.
The bigger news in all of this is that Senga is still being mentioned in connection to the Cubs after a period of relative radio silence on that front. His market is understandably robust and offers may be getting into the six-year range, especially after seeing what’s happened with the rest of that second pitching tier, but the Cubs have always done a good job of wooing Japanese players. Senga shares an agent with Seiya Suzuki and Yu Darvish, so that’s another mark in the Cubs’ favor.
Many have speculated that Darvish being Senga’s mentor makes a deal with the Padres more likely, but that’s what a lot of people thought would be the case with Suzuki last year as well. Then the outfielder visited Wrigley in the dead of winter and committed to the Cubs shortly after being photographed taking BP in San Diego wearing Padres gear.
All of which is to say it’s still entirely possible for Jed Hoyer to turn the running narrative all the way around with deals for a top shortstop, a front-line starter, a catcher, and a veteran bat. I’m not saying it’s likely, just that there’s a clear path to making it happen. And with ownership’s mandate to spend hanging out there, Hoyer needs to follow that path pretty closely.