Rockies acquire veteran outfielder from Phillies

Rockies acquire veteran outfielder from Phillies

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The Rockies are set to acquire first baseman/outfielder Jake Cave from the Phillies, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic. Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post reports that the Rockies will be sending cash to Philadelphia in exchange for Cave’s services. Both clubs have since announced the move.

Cave, 31, was a sixth-round pick by the Yankees in the 2011 draft and made his big league debut with the Twins back in 2018. He spent five seasons in Minnesota as a reserve outfielder, slashing a collective .235/.297/.441 (92 wRC+) during that time while splitting time between all three outfield spots. Cave’s tenure with the Twins came to an end in October 2022, when he was claimed off waivers from the club by the Orioles. While he went on to sign a contract with Baltimore to avoid arbitration, he did not enter the season with the club as he was once again claimed off waivers that December, this time by the Phillies.

Cave entered the Phillies organization shortly after star right fielder Bryce Harper underwent Tommy John surgery, leaving the the club with a somewhat uncertain outfield mix. That made Cave a valuable depth option as a left-handed bat capable of playing all three outfield spots, though he faced stiff competition from the likes of Kody Clemens and Darick Hall for a spot on the club’s bench entering the 2023 season. Things changed for Cave, however, when first baseman Rhys Hoskins suffered a torn ACL that would cause him to miss the entire campaign. With a sudden hole at first base, the Phillies decided to roster Cave as an option both in the outfield corners as well as at first base, a position he had not yet played at the major league level.

The experiment did not go particularly well. While Cave performed solidly at first base with the glove, he fell well below expectations with the bat as he slashed just .212/.272/.348 (66 wRC+) in 203 trips to the plate with the club despite posting a career-best 27.1% strikeout rate. That performance wasn’t enough to deter the Phillies from offering Cave a contract this winter, as the sides successfully avoided arbitration back in November. Since then, however, it has become increasingly clear that there wasn’t a roster spot available to Cave in Philadelphia as the club instead committed bench spots to the likes of Whit Merrifield. Given the fact that Cave is out of options, the Phillies would have needed to pass him through waivers to keep him in the organization.

That provided the Rockies with the opportunity to acquire Cave for nothing but cash. The 31-year-old veteran figures to slot into a bench role with Colorado entering the season, offering a left-handed complement to the club’s righty outfielders Brenton Doyle and Sean Bouchard while also providing an alternative to Kris Bryant and Elehuris Montero at first base. While Cave’s 2023 numbers certainly leave something to be desired, the Rockies will count on the veteran bouncing back to the form he showed during his time in Minnesota. If he can do so, his career .240/.309/.421 slash line against right-handed pitching should allow him to contribute in a bench role. Should Cave struggle to open the season, other options at the Rockies’ disposal include Greg Jones, Sam Hilliard, and Bradley Zimmer.

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