The Cubs are “in strong pursuit” of Daniel Descalso, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). They’ll have interesting company in the bidding, though, as the division-rival Cardinals are also involved on their former infielder, as previously rumored and as Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets.
Descalso, 32, was a mainstay with the Cards for several years, but has spent the past four seasons out west with the Rockies and D-Backs. In that time, the veteran has not only spread his wings a bit defensively but heated up a bit with his left-handed bat.
Known primarily as a utility infielder, Descalso has now spent a fair amount of time in the corner outfield. It’s likely that these and other clubs will mostly value him for his ability to field any position on the dirt, but it surely doesn’t hurt that he’s now familiar with left field.
At the plate, Descalso has earned a rather expansive role in Arizona by producing sturdy on-base numbers. He’s still a clearly below-average hitter over the course of his career, but Descalso has also perhaps shown some newfound abilities at the plate as an acolyte of the flyball revolution.
Last year, Descalso popped a career-high 13 long balls and turned in a healthy .198 ISO — well north of anything he had shown previously. An aggressive new approach also resulted in quite a few more strikeouts (26.0%) than usual, but Descalso more than made up for that by setting new career marks (by a wide margin) with a 15.1% walk rate and 43.1% hard-contact rate. The results — a .238/.353/.436 slash — were impressive.
Given those changes, and Descalso’s preexisting reputation as a reliable veteran and generally solid defender, it’s not hard to see why these two contending clubs have interest. Presumably, others do as well, though the infield market is still quite overloaded with possibilities.