How the Cubs see starting year Matt Mirvis exploring options in free agency

In another sign of his rising profile, Matt Mervis recently changed agents and signed a contract with Creative Artists Agency. CAA Baseball announced the move on an Instagram account with nearly 20,000 followers. The agency’s website features clients such as Shuhei Ohtani and Trea Turner, topping out the total value of contracts negotiated since the creation of its baseball division of $4.1 billion. The Chicago Cubs I don’t know where Mervis will land on the potential career outcome scale, but they want to find out as soon as possible.

The baseball industry did not value Mervis enough to select him as an eligible starter for the MLB draft from Duke University in 2019, when the event lasted 40 innings. As a two-way player, Mirvis never fully focused on hitting or pitching, which made him an interesting prospect and the hardest to evaluate. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited opportunities to showcase those skills as an undergraduate in 2020, when Major League Baseball The MLB Players Association agreed to cut the draft down to just five rounds. However, 30 teams selected 160 players that year, and Mirvis became an unregulated free agent who could sign for a maximum bonus of $20,000.

The Cubs get credit for making Mervis a priority, executing their recruiting plan and giving him the resources to improve his talents. However, no one in the organization would claim to have seen it all come so quickly for Murvis, who this year produced 42 home runs, 42 doubles and 131 RBIs combined in three minor league affiliates plus the Arizona Fall League. The Cubs can only guess if Mirvis’ future contributions will be any closer to that Anthony RizzoA combination of great seasons from Bryan LaHair and Frank Schwindel, who were both named to their first All-Star team and were unceremoniously released. in filing Scouting report from the Arizona Fall LeagueAnd the the athleteKeith Low compares Mervis to Daniel Vogelbacha former Cubs prospect who earned an All-Star selection in 2019 and eventually found his niche as a left-handed first batter/designated hitter.

The platoon setup is a potential starting point for Murvis, who has been named in coordination with free agents like Jose Abreu, Trey Mancini and Josh Bell. The Cubs will not designate Mirvis as the starting quarterback on Opening Day and guarantee him more than 600 appearances next season. It remains realistic to think that Mervis will take on a prominent role for a transitional team that wants to add left-footed strength and create favorable encounters with a flexible lineup.

“It’s a big part of our plans,” said Jed Hoyer, president of baseball operations for the Cubs. “But I think we will also be active in exploring alternatives.”

The Cubs first baseman posted a poor 86 in WRC+ in 2022, or 25th in baseball. Perhaps more troubling was the complete lack of power from a position that greatly valued slowness. Cubs manager David Ross described the situation as a “major hole” in which he scored an ISO of 0.16, nearly 50 points below the league average for a first baseman, which could be described as a light hitter for second base. The Cubs’ first baseman paired their weak hitting with a strikeout rate of 25.3 percent, the eighth highest in the game.

This is where the best version of Mervis can come in handy. Lefty joined Chris Bryant As the only minor leaguer in the past decade to hit more than 35 home runs, drive in 110 home runs and hit over . 300. This season, Mirvis was the only junior player to shoot 35 or more guards while putting the ball in play on at least 36 percent of his swings. Only five major leagues – Alonso HouseAnd the Jordan AlvarezAnd the Mookie PetsAnd the Christian Walker And the Naughty Tellez – accomplished the feat at this level. This is a wide variation in results, but each is valuable in its own way.

Mervis is a heavy hitter in the draw, but that’s an issue that probably would have become a bigger deal before next season. With hard shifting banned, Mervis’ happy ways — he ranked sixth in the minors with a 57.3 percent pull average — could come in handy. This is where his strength lies – 1,035 cooldown on pulled pitches – and he’s able to deal damage and deliver pitches away rather than just rolling them around.

The question, of course, is how all of this will translate to the highest level.

“Sure, it’s a big part of our future,” said Hoyer. “We know he’s going to play a lot of games with us, get a lot of playing time. We’re also still in the bat market. There are several places he can play. We can’t lose sight of the real depth. That’s really important. We’re happy with what he’s doing. We know It’s a big part of what we’re heading into. But at the same time, we have to be aware that there’s real depth. Injuries happen and other things.”

After getting off to a slow start and never finding his rhythm in 2021, Mirvis never seemed to hold back this year. He dominated High A (182 wRC+) in 27 games, moved up to Double A and never slowed down. After a 53-game career that included 148 WRC+ and a high walk average combined with a dropped bunt, Mervis forced trouble and earned a promotion to Triple-A Iowa. Again, he showed no signs that his illusion was falling. His strike rate dropped to 14.6 percent – and his walk rate jumped into double digits – as he scored ₹152+ in 57 matches.

“Whenever you achieve the kind of success that you’ve enjoyed this year, and afterward the hard work that has put in, you put yourself into a lot of different conversations that you might not have been expected to be involved in previously,” Cubs vice president of development Jared Banner said. “Being able to hit for strength – not to whack – and keep adapting as the season goes on, it’s really a positive sign for his future.”

Banner also downplayed the question about Murvis’ defense and how the 6-foot-4, 225-pound player would adapt in the position where Rizzo won four Gold Gloves and helped anchor some great defensive teams at Wrigley Field: “He’s more athletic than people. Think.” V. Knows his way around the bag at first base. He’s a big, nice target, and actually scales well defensively. No worries there.”

A big part of Mirvis’ turnaround from 2021 to 2022 was that he stopped overthinking things after his slow start to 2021. That early poor performance saw him chase numbers, derail his approach and then start adjusting his mechanics in a way that resulted in him to delusion. This year he focused on pitch selection, staying confident in his approach and not letting small slumps in his head. And it culminated in one of the most unexpected breakthroughs in the minor leagues.

“This season in particular has been hard to predict,” Mirvis said during a visit to Wrigley Field in October. “I know I’m capable of hitting a home run. But going into the year, I wouldn’t say, like, those are going to be my numbers at the end of the year. On the one hand, I know I’m a good hitter. I know what I’m capable of. So I was saying last year in Myrtle Beach It was an anomaly, and that’s the hitter I expect him to be.”

(Photo: Mark J. Rebellas/USA Today)

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