The Chicago Cubs signed free agent outfielder Nate Schierholtz on Wednesday, December 6 to a one-year contract worth a reported $2.25 million. The 28 year old Schierholtz spent the first five and a half seasons of his big league career with the San Francisco Giants. Schierholtz was dealt to Philadelphia as part of a package of players to acquire Hunter Pence. Schierholtz is noted as plus defender in right field and could serve in a platoon role with the Cubs.
The signing of Schierholtz is just the first domino to fall in what could be a tumultuous season in the Cubs’ outfield. David DeJesus has one season remaining on his contract and could be a candidate for a trade or a position change. DeJesus played right field for much of 2012 but could be moved to center field to make way for Schierholtz. DeJesus could also be a viable trade option for any team left out of the center field carousel. Brett Jackson remains the Cubs’ center fielder of the future but his September struggles probably earned him a trip back to Triple-A Iowa to start 2013.
The status of left fielder Alfonso Soriano is still undetermined as well. Soriano had a resurgent season in 2012 and may have restored some of the trade value he lost after several disappointing seasons. Soriano is still owed $36 million over the next two years but he could be attractive to an American League club in search of a designated hitter. The Cubs would certainly have to include some cash to facilitate a Soriano trade.
Schierholtz will most likely platoon in right field next season. The lefty swinging outfielder posted an impressive .826 OPS in 178 at bats against right-handers in 2012. Schierholtz went just 11-for-63 with a .444 OPS versus southpaws in 2012. The Cubs could add another right-handed batter to platoon with Schierholtz or use rookie Dave Sappelt as reserve in both right and center field. Sappelt was impressive in his late season stint with the Cubs and may have earned an extended look in Spring Training.
The Cubs 2013 outfield remains a mystery and the Schierholtz signing only adds intrigue. Cubs fans still don’t know who will be playing center field or if Soriano will be on the ball club come Opening Day.
*Information gathered from http://www.baseball-reference.com.
Dan Soderberg is an avid Cubs fan and hopes to one day retire to the Wrigley Field bleachers. You can read some of Dan’s other work at http://dadstimeout.tumblr.com/ Follow Dan on Twitter.