Trey Mancini was introduced to Chicago media Monday afternoon through a Zoom news conference and it was pretty much the standard new player presser, except for this:
Trey Mancini will not be playing in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) January 23, 2023
He believes it will benefit him to be with the Cubs through all of spring training to get to know his new team/organization "especially since I'm going to be a more veteran presence in the clubhouse."
This makes sense, the new guy on the team wanting to get to know everyone, especially since:
Trey Mancini hasn't played with anyone on the Cubs' roster in his career, though he did share a dugout with Michael Rucker for part of spring 2020 after Rucker was selected by Baltimore in the Rule 5 Draft (he was returned to the Cubs that same spring).— Ryan Herrera (@ryan_a_herrera) January 23, 2023
Mancini, as you likely know, is a cancer survivor and wanted to let another current major leaguer about to undergo cancer treatments about how he handled it:
Trey Mancini reached out to WSox's Liam Hendriks as he undergoes treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) January 23, 2023
Mancini beat colon cancer in 2020: "I wanted him to know I have some advice, at least on what makes you feel better during chemo and how to get through it a little bit better."
This is all good, I think. Mancini has been a clubhouse leader previously, in his five-plus seasons with the Orioles, and having guys like this around matters. Of course, he’ll have to perform on the field, but there’s usefulness in having guys on the roster who have been around, been on World Series winners. Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson provide that as well.
The Cubs will be a very different team in 2023, and you will notice the difference, on and off the field.
One other bit of Cubs news this afternoon: Mark Leiter Jr., who was designated for assignment January 13 when the Cubs officially announced the signing of Eric Hosmer, had cleared waivers last week and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa. Today, Leiter declined that assignment and elected free agency, as was his right because he had been previously sent outright to Triple-A.
Leiter had a pretty good year last year once moved to the bullpen. In 31 relief appearances he posted a 2.87 ERA and 1.031 WHIP, with 62 strikeouts and only 18 walks in 53⅓ innings. I suppose the Cubs could offer him a minor-league deal with a Spring Training invite to keep him around, though he’s now free to look elsewhere.
That leaves lefthander Anthony Kay as the only Cub in DFA limbo. Kay was DFA last Friday when the Mancini signing was made official. If he clears waivers the Cubs can assign him to Iowa and keep him, because he hasn’t been previously outrighted.
The Cubs are reportedly still in the market for a lefthanded reliever, and my guess is that would be the last major league roster move before Spring Training begins, if it happens. If the Cubs do sign such a pitcher (Hint, Jed: Andrew Chafin!), someone else would have to be removed from the 40-man roster.
As always, we await developments.