The Chicago Cubs are reportedly on the cusp of signing yet another middle infielder. Jordan Bastion reported on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that the team is working on a free-agent contract with former Cleveland Indians star Jason Kipnis. The talks about a deal have supposedly moved far enough along and the only thing left to do is for him to take and pass his physical.
The report that the two sides were close to an agreement came just a few minutes after Jesse Rogers first tweeted out the Cubs were zeroing in on the Illinois native. The club’s President, Theo Epstein, foreshadowed a signing was coming down the pike when he talked to the ESPN.com writer, telling him; “We’ll probably have a couple [of] small moves, adding guys on minor league deals.”
Bastion backed up the minor league deal part of those comments saying Kipnis was getting a non-roster invitation to Cubs camp, just one day before Spring Training officially begins for the unit. Now the questions about whether or not Kipnis has enough left in the tank to make the Big League club can officially start.
The infielder was once considered one of the rising stars of the American League when he started his career with the Cleveland Indians. Always known as someone who is solid to above average on defense, Kipnis has also managed to post a better than.800 three different times in his career. As he’s gotten older, the bat appears to have slowed down as he hasn’t had an OPS much above.700 in the last three years.
On the bright side for Chicago Cubs fans, his best offensive season of the last three was in 2019. A lefty batter, it’s expected he will compete with Daniel Descalso for the starting second base job. Descalso was signed to a two-year deal before the 2019 season and had a disastrous first season with his new team. The team allowed the other potential starter at the position, Addison Russell, to depart as a free-agent this winter.
It’s possible the Cubs felt as though they had to act today to get Kipnis under contract because he was finally drawing attention from other clubs. MLB Trade Rumors reports it had largely been “crickets” when talking about clubs interested in signing the middle-infielder but the Oakland Athletics started showing a bit of interest earlier Tuesday. Reports first surfaced last week that the Cubs were at least talking to Kipnis. Should the deal go through, 2020 would be the first time he’s played for any Major League team outside of Cleveland. He’d been with the Indians since 2011.