Sometimes, the collective recent history of a fanbase indicates the expectancy of what will come next. For a stretch, the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation was Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Claude Osteen and Don Sutton. In 1966, those four started all but eight Dodgers games (those eight were started by Joe Moeller). The expectation was that any Dodger starting pitcher would be brilliant, and virtually bulletproof. On occasion, teams have lower expectations than that. While more realistic, those expectations come with their own version of biases. Today, I look at Michael Hermosillo as a 40-man roster spot candidate.
If you were to ask a fan of the Cubs (for the last decade) the reasonable expectation for a fourth/fifth outfielder, a reasonable response might be Albert Almora Jr. That isn’t necessarily an accurate definition league-wide, but it’s what many Cubs fans are familiar with. While Almora started well against the league, his progression flowed the wrong way. His OPS plus went from 99 to 100 to 86, 67, 20, and -12. No matter how likeable an outfielder is, those numbers got intolerable rather quick.
What should be the current expectation for a Cubs fourth or fifth outfielder? Last offseason, the Cubs added a few outfielders via non-roster invites. Three would play with the big club. Two were much better than Almora, who shouldn’t be a proxy for anything into the future. There’s no reason to think it impossible to find a reasonable fourth or fifth outfielder as a non-roster invite since two from last cycle are in discussion for a roster spot this time.
If you truly believe that Hermosillo will be the next Darin Ruf or Steven Duggar, that’s a possibility. My hunch is that teams aren’t going to aggressively line up to add Hermosillo, who can’t be directly sent to Triple-A Iowa from the 40-man roster any longer (unless he signs a minor-league deal). Lining up Hermosillo, or any of a various number of other available free agents (like last time) could develop some internal options in Des Moines (like last time).
To mention a few names that might be available for NRI this cycle, Jake Marisnick seems possible, almost likely. I doubt he’ll be interested in a return to Petco. I’d be interested in the Cubs looking into Jorge Bonifacio on a minor league deal. He’s hit reasonably well in Triple-A. Bring in four or five players to augment Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, Rafael Ortega (from last year’s list), and Greg Deichmann. Alexander Canario will get some swings in spring training, along with Brennen Davis.
All the answers won’t be solved in October or November. I doubt Hermosillo is a slam-dunk for the roster in mid-March. That’s basically what is the standard for him, especially with Heyward’s money guaranteed. If he has a 40-man offer, he should take it. Most teams, in October, November and early December are prioritizing their options, including prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
It’s really unfortunate Hermosillo got hurt. With three more weeks, he could have more easily clarified his roster status. I think the Cubs, likely, value him more than any of the other 29 teams. Sign him to an NRI (at a somewhat player-attractive rate) and let him do what he did last year. Make the doubters get really quiet.
I’ll make a case for Hermo being on the 40 man: he showed some potential with the bat towards the end of his time this year, he has very good defense at all 3 outfield spots and he has good speed as well. And he now has some legit power in his bat that he didn’t have before.— Jackson Rosenthal (@JacksonRosenth3) October 15, 2021
Should the Cubs give Michael Hermosillo an offseason 40-man roster spot?
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