Roster Move: Cubs agree to deal with Garrett Cooper
John Hefti - USA Today Sports

Roster Move: Cubs agree to deal with Garrett Cooper


by - Senior Writer -

Although the Cody Bellinger news may be the headline of the Chicago Cubs right now, we can't forget that this team has suddenly started to be aggressive on the free-agent market yet again. Granted, their aggressiveness may not be how fans would think being aggressive is, but after adding David Peralta and Dom Smith to minor league deals last week, the Cubs front office continues to value depth and isn't shying away from adding more depth to this team.

Apparently, the Cubs must feel depth is an essential piece to the puzzle this time of year as they are once again bringing in a player on a minor league deal, with this one coming in the form of 1B Garrett Cooper. One year, there is an influx of catchers heading to the Cubs system, but this is the year of the 1B as the Cubs have more than enough 1B options right now.

That is what happens when that is an area of concern heading into the season, and even with this team trading for Michael Busch, it does give off the impression that they are either unsure if he is the answer right now or they feel they need more depth behind him. They could also package some of these guys up during the seasons as trade chips, which isn't a bad idea.

Although not the biggest fish in the sea, Cooper has been a reliable option over the past five seasons and will be an excellent depth option in AAA or as a possible bench player, depending on how spring goes. At 33 years old, the best days are behind Cooper, but he still can put up some pretty strong numbers in a part-time role.

Take this past season, for example, as a member of the San Diego Padres. With the Cubs signing Eric Hosmer last season, the Padres needed help at 1B and thus brought in Cooper, who was coming off a strong run with the Marlins. Looking back at that Hosmer pickup, the Padres won in terms of the option they used, as Cooper went on to bat .251 last season and has hit .268 for his career. That includes his four-year stretch from 2019-2022 when he hit .274 with Miami and was one of their better overall hitters in the lineup. He even was an All-Star selection in 2022.

Cooper also showed he still had some pop left in his bat as he connected for 17 homers and 61 RBIs. That may not seem that great, but San Diego is one of the toughest parks to hit homers in, so being able to do that could be a reason why the Cubs are bringing him in, as he still can give you 20 or more homers in a season. Cooper has had only two seasons of 15 or more homers for his career, with the other one coming in 2019 with the Marlins, but he seemed to focus more on average as opposed to power his last few seasons.

Some may ask why the Cubs would add another player on a Minor League deal when they have so many more options they could go with. Well, for starters, the Cubs weren't alone when it came to Cooper, as the Red Sox were equally as interested as were other teams along the way. He ultimately chose the Cubs despite this being a minor-league deal, showing you how he feels about this opportunity.

You know injuries will happen in any baseball season, so it is always a great idea to have as much depth across the board as possible. That is what Hoyer and company are doing right now as they want to add as much depth as possible for Spring Training to put the most competitive product on the field throughout the organization.

While this move may not affect the MLB roster, it does affect Matt Mervis, as did the Smith pickup last week. Mervis is getting plenty of reps this spring to showcase his stuff at 1B, but with Patrick Wisdom, Busch, and Bellinger all capable of playing first, the Cubs could be showcasing Mervis right now as a trade option.

Cooper and Smith make a ton of sense if that is the case, as they could provide a very nice lefty/righty platoon for Iowa this season. While neither of them will give the numbers Mervis does, combined, they can, and both of them have plenty of MLB experience where they could fill in if needed. Unless the Cubs shock the world and add a guy like Matt Chapman or Jordan Montgomery, these are the moves we can expect in the next few weeks as this team continues to add depth to their organization.

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