The Cubs reportedly signed veteran center fielder Jake Marisnick to a minor-league deal, contingent upon a physical, that’s worth $1 million in 2021 with a mutual option for 2022.
Marisnick, 29, has been considered one of the best defensive outfielders in the game since his debut with the Marlins in 2013, and his strength has always been his glove. He’s plus-71 in defensive runs saved and plus-39 in outs above average in eight seasons in the majors with the Marlins, Astros and Mets.
The Cubs won’t be looking to Marisnick for offense. He hit .333 with two homers last season for the Mets, but because of injuries to both hamstrings, he was limited to just 16 games. He has a career .229/.281/.385 slash line with 56 homers and 72 stolen bases.
The signing strengthens the Cubs’ bench by giving them a speedy defensive wizard to help in late-game situations, with the occasional spot start. Manager David Ross often adjusted his defensive alignment when the Cubs had a slim lead last season, and Marisnick should be a big part of that in 2021, likely with Ian Happ shifting to left field from center and Joc Pederson coming out, or Pederson staying in left and Happ coming out.
Because only one bench spot will be available with the rosters going back to 26, outfielder Phillip Ervin likely will have an uphill battle to make the roster this spring but could still remain a depth piece in the organization.