The Cubs announced Tuesday that they have claimed 28-year-old outfielder Phillip Ervin off waivers from Seattle. Best known to Cubs fans as a member of the Reds, Ervin was the 27th overall pick in 2013 out of Samford University and made his debut in 2017. He had a solid season in 2019, posting a 102 wRC+ in 260 plate appearances, and looked like he was ready for a more regular role.
After a very rough start to the 2020 season, however, Ervin was DFA’d and claimed by the Mariners before being DFA’d again on December 16. A career .247 hitter with 17 homers and 68 RBI in 237 games, the right-handed hitter has spent a vast majority of his time in the corner outfield spots. His defense is entirely mediocre, with a combined total of zero defensive runs saved over 1,331.2 innings, but he’s versatile and can handle center in a pinch.
The Cubs needed outfielders badly and they also needed to improve against left-handed pitching, so getting a guy with a career .811 OPS and 113 wRC+ against southpaws is a good fit. And because Ervin isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2022, he’s also a tremendous fit for a reduced baseball budget.
He lacks power and isn’t a stolen base threat, but he has a .294 average with three homers over 58 plate appearances at Wrigley Field. Because he’s out of minor league options, it’s easy to see him securing a roster spot as at least a bench outfielder.
The 40-man roster now stands at 37.