The Cubs are in agreement on a two-year deal with veteran utility player Daniel Descalso, per a Tuesday morning report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The contract maxes out at $8.25 million if he reaches performance bonuses and has his club option picked up for 2021:
#Cubs close to signing free-agent IF Daniel Descalso, source tells The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 18, 2018
Sources: Descalso deal with #Cubs is two years, $5M with a club option fo 2021.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 18, 2018
Option for 2021 in Descalso’s contract with #Cubs is worth $3.5M. Team can also buy him out for $1M. Potential overall value, with performance bonuses, is $8.25M. Descalso gets a 49.25 percent increase over the $1.675 AAV in his previous two-year deal with #DBacks.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 18, 2018
Descalso, 32, had a career year in 2018, posting a .238/.353/.436 slash line with 13 homers in 423 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks. He saw action at first base, second base, third base, left field, and as a mop-up reliever in 2018, and he’s also played 179 career games at shortstop (as well as a third of an inning in right field). He can reasonably be relied on to fill in at any position besides center field, pitcher, or catcher on a regular basis, with second base being the spot where he’s best defensively, though he may not get much action there in Chicago with all three of Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist, and David Bote being in the organization.
The Cubs had an opening on their bench for a left-handed hitter after trading Tommy La Stella to the Angels late last month. It’s a bit surprising to see them fill that spot with a player like Descalso who is out of options, but he’s capable of sharing the workload at second base with Zobrist and Bote for the first month of the season — and possibly thereafter — as Baez serves as the everyday shortstop in the absence of the suspended Addison Russell. He’ll also be a dependable option to fill in at third base for Kris Bryant, who may need more days off going forward due to the bothersome shoulder injury that held him back for much of the 2018 season.
Descalso has toured through the NL West over the past four years, spending two seasons each with the Rockies and Diamondbacks, but he began his career in the Cardinals organization, getting drafted by St. Louis in 2007 and seeing big-league action with the Redbirds from 2010-14, winning a World Series with the team in 2011. He’ll now become one of the rare players who has played on both sides of the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry, joining former-turned-current teammate Jason Heyward as well as Steve Cishek, who spent two months with St. Louis in 2015.