The Chicago Cubs clearly have some holes in their outfield that need to be filled this offseason. It is probably not in the best interest of the team to spend freely on a guy like Jacoby Ellsbury right now, and unless somebody like Curtis Granderson comes at a nice value they will probably be looking for a bargain outfielder or two.
I have said before that taking a flyer on Franklin Gutierrez makes some sense. Another guy who is similar to him, and maybe even a better fit, is Nate McLouth.
McLouth, a nine-year veteran, would be a nice, inexpensive option for the Cubs as they desperately need outfield help. McLouth has never had a super impressive batting average (career .250 hitter), but he has a nice, patient approach at the plate. McLouth has never struck-out 100 times in a season, takes a solid amount of walks and has a little bit of surprising power (31 doubles and 12 home runs in 2013).
McLouth’s patience at the plate would be a welcomed addition in Chicago and fits in well with the front office’s beliefs. The Cubs finished 23rd in all of baseball last season in pitches seen per plate appearance, and the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox were first on that list. Simply put, the Cubs need to become a more patient team at the plate, and adding McLouth would be a good step in that direction.
He would also help the Cubs on the base-paths. Last season with the Baltimore Orioles, McLouth stole 30 bases and was only caught seven times. While he does not have elite speed, McLouth would instantly become one of the fastest players on the Cubs. Last season the Cubs were 25th in baseball with only 63 stolen bases, and they were caught stealing 32 times. New Cubs manager Rick Renteria reportedly likes to be aggressive on the base paths. He will not be able to do so with this current roster. He may not solve the entire speed issue, but once again, McLouth would be a step in the right direction.
McLouth is also a good defender as he won a Gold Glove Award back in 2008. While he may not still be an elite defender, he takes good routes to balls and I have no doubts that he can still play center field.
With his plate discipline, speed and good defense in the outfield, McLouth seems to fill a lot of holes for the Cubs. At 32-years-old, McLouth may not be part of the future core of the Cubs, but he would be a solid stopgap that could help the team become more competitive in 2014.