Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Non-tendered infielders offer intriguing options

Cubs could find depth among fresh crop of free agents
MLB.com @MLBastian

Over the span of three days last week, the Cubs acquired a utility infielder, parted ways with another and then ended up with neither one in the fold. On the surface, it was a head-scratching series of transactions, but consider it a fact-gathering process for Chicago.

When the Cubs swung a deal with the Yankees on Wednesday to reel in Ronald Torreyes -- for a player to be named or cash considerations -- Chicago bought itself a few days to negotiate with the versatile infielder. On Friday, the Cubs sent Torreyes to the free-agent pool by opting not to tender him a contract, but the team established dialogue and expressed an interest in re-signing him.

Over the span of three days last week, the Cubs acquired a utility infielder, parted ways with another and then ended up with neither one in the fold. On the surface, it was a head-scratching series of transactions, but consider it a fact-gathering process for Chicago.

When the Cubs swung a deal with the Yankees on Wednesday to reel in Ronald Torreyes -- for a player to be named or cash considerations -- Chicago bought itself a few days to negotiate with the versatile infielder. On Friday, the Cubs sent Torreyes to the free-agent pool by opting not to tender him a contract, but the team established dialogue and expressed an interest in re-signing him.

Amid that course of action, the Cubs also had a chance to monitor other players being non-tendered around the Majors, providing another wave of potential alternatives. Chicago remains in need of a utility infielder, especially one capable of handling shortstop. Tommy La Stella (traded to the Angels for cash or a player to be named on Thursday) did not fit that last criteria.

The Cubs did tender a contract to shortstop Addison Russell, but he will be ineligible until May 3 while finishing a 40-game suspension for violating MLB's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Javier Baez can move from second base to short -- as he did down the stretch last season -- and Chicago has some in-house options for second (Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ and David Bote), but depth remains important.

Russell also knows that his still-unsettled contract will be non-guaranteed through arbitration, and the Cubs could part ways with the shortstop if he does not meet the standards put into place given his situation. So Chicago will continue to explore its options through both trade and free agency, and the recent non-tendered class offered some new possibilities.

With that in mind, here are some relevant non-tendered players who are now free-agents.

Tim Beckham
The former first overall pick (2008, Rays) was let go by the Orioles after earning $3.4 million in '18. Beckham, 28, played mostly shortstop and third last season, but he has experience at second and first base, too. A right-handed hitter, Beckham hit .230 with a .661 OPS in 96 games this year after posting an .871 OPS in 50 games for Baltimore down the stretch in '17.

Video: Tim Beckham becomes a free agent

Wilmer Flores
The 27-year-old was dispatched by the Mets after earning $3.4 million in 2018. Flores has not played shortstop regularly since 2015 and was used sparingly at second and third last season. He was utilized mostly as a first baseman in '18. Over the past three seasons, Flores has turned in consistent offensive numbers, compiling a .268/.315/.456 slash line and a 109 OPS+ in that span.

Video: Flores enters free agency after Mets non tender

Jonathan Schoop
Schoop, 27, was an All-Star with the Orioles in 2017, when he hit .293 with 32 homers, 105 RBIs and an .841 OPS in a breakout showing. That helped him net an $8.5 million contract for 2018, but he was non-tendered by the Brewers, who acquired him last summer. In '18, Schoop hit .233 with 21 homers, 61 RBIs and a .682 OPS. He has mostly played second, but he also has limited experience at short and third. Schoop is an aggressive hitter, posting a 3.7 percent walk rate and a 22.6 percent strikeout rate in his career.

Video: Brewers non-tender Schoop, making him a free agent

Yangervis Solarte
Last season, Solarte saw his OPS decline to .655, which was down from .731 in 2017 and .808 in '16. The 31-year-old is a switch-hitter and offers depth at second, shortstop and third base, with the hot corner being his primary position. Solarte's position versatility and occasional pop could make him a useful bench player for plenty of teams. The Blue Jays non-tendered him after already buying out a $5.5 million option.

Video: Solarte gets non-tendered, becomes a free agent

Torreyes
The utility infielder who was briefly under the Cubs' control might be the most affordable option of the bunch. It might even be possible to add him on a Minor League contract, should a big league deal elsewhere prove elusive. Over the past three years with the Yankees, Torreyes slashed .281/.308/.374 in 221 games, and he can offer depth all over the infield. Torreyes also brings plus bat-to-ball ability, which is useful off the bench. For his career, he has an 85.1 percent contact rate and a 91.5 percent contact rate on pitches in the strike zone.

Video: NYY@KC: Torreyes robs Butera with a diving stop

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Chicago Cubs