The Chicago Cubs continued their “offseason” by signing 2B Jason Kipnis to a deal. Kipnis will come in and compete for ABs at the unsettled 2B position.
In the battle for who would be the
biggest most recognizable signing made by the Chicago Cubs this offseason, Jason Kipnis is now the clubhouse leader, passing OF Steven Souza. Kipnis agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training where he stands a good chance to make the team.
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Nico Hoerner figures to have the inside track to the starting gig after a late-season call-up when the Cubs were desperate for help. Zobrist and Russell are no longer with the team so Kipnis will be competing with Daniel Descalso for the lefty bat infield bench slot for the Cubs.
The Cubs are hoping for a bounce-back season from Kipnis who was an average regular and totaled 2.1 WAR as recently as 2018 for the Cleveland Indians. Kipnis was a borderline superstar in the mid-2010s with Cleveland routinely turning in 4 and 5 win seasons. At 32, those days are well past Kipnis but he could still be an acceptable bench bat in Chicago.
Kipnis was -7 DRS last season in 1000 innings at 2B which isn’t great but the Cubs won’t be asking him to take on a full season worth of work at the keystone. Kipnis will see time at 2B, 3B, and if the Cubs feel so inclined, they could resurrect the Kipnis OF experiment.
Kipnis became a CF when everyone on the Indians struggled or got hurt and was acceptable in the grass. That versatility would give him a leg up on Descalso and other infield only options on the roster.
Offensively, nothing in his Statcast profile or statistical track record jumps out to make you think he could have more in the tank. Kipnis hasn’t been an above-average hitter since 2016 and his wRC+ has hovered in the 80s the past three years.
The Chicago Cubs “shaking things up” never materialized this offseason probably because of underwhelming offers on players and Kris Bryant‘s grievance against the team. Kipnis is definitely not what one would picture when shaking up a roster. That being said, it doesn’t hurt anything to see if Kipnis can recapture some of his old form and be a higher quality bench option than Tony Kemp or Daniel Descalso.