The Houston Astros fell short of repeating as World Series champions in 2018. Though they may have fallen short, Marwin González was as close to a lock as one could find in the 2018 Major League Baseball playoffs. He showed, just like he has the past few years, why he’d be a perfect fit for the Chicago Cubs.
Position: First Base, Second Base, Shortstop, Third Base, Right Field, Center Field, Left Field
2018 Stats: .247/.324/.409 with a TAv of .273, a WARP of 2.1, a BRR of 1.5, and an FRAA of -2.2.
How He Fits: González is the super utility man that Cubs fans have yet to realize they will desperately need going forward. On a team built on the idea of positional flexibility, he is the end all and be all of playing multiple positions. He plays some positions better than others, but he plays above average defense at the majority of positions he platoons at. It can’t be overstated how much this Cubs team relies on players with the ability to play many different positions, and play them well.
His bat is also a cut above what one would expect from a guy without a permanent position. That’s mostly on people for not realizing that baseball has changed and González isn’t truly a super utility man, no matter how catchy that moniker may be. 2018 was a slightly down year for the Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela native. He still managed to produce a WARP of 2.1, which isn’t a huge drop off from his 2017 number of 3.1. González appears to be trending towards being a steady 2 WARP player who can hit for power, run the bases really well, and play wherever he is needed in the field. That’s a guy the Cubs need and should put a priority on getting in 2019.
The other key factor in the Cubs getting the soon-to-be free agent is that Ben Zobrist will be 38 this year and 39 in his free agent year of 2020. Cubs fans love Zobrist, and so does the front office. Deservedly so: the bearded sometimes-second baseman has been everything the Cubs hoped for, and then some. Reality is reality though, and I’ll take a 30-year-old (the age he’ll be in 2020) González over the aging Zobrist, especially when you consider that Zobrist is still going to want a multiple year contract that will extend into his early 40’s.
Why It Won’t Work: There isn’t a true reason why González wouldn’t fit on the Cubs. He’s literally the perfect fit for the ballclub and everything this front office wants to do on a yearly basis. The only possible wrinkles in getting the hard-hitting switch hitter would be if he demands too much money or wants some sort of guarantee that he’ll primarily play one position. The money factor shouldn’t matter, but I could see it mattering to the front office if González’s agent, Scott Boras, does what he does best and plays hardball. The position question doesn’t seem like a request González would make. But, if he does then that doesn’t fit what the Cubs are looking for and I could see them passing on him quite easily.
Alternatives: The obvious alternatives to González are already on the Cubs. David Bote, Kris Bryant, and Javier Báez all fit the positional flexibility mold the Cubs like so much. I don’t think he’ll be ready this year, but Nico Hoerner is a top prospect in the system who has middle infield flexibility. They could also do as mentioned above, and re-sign Zobrist to another deal. There isn’t a true free agent alternative this year unless the Toronto Blue Jays decide not to exercise their club option on Yangervis Solarte.