MLB Insider: Why the Cubs DFA'd Garrett Cooper and what's next for the former All-Star

Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs
Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs have designated first baseman Garrett Cooper for assignment, as first reported by FanSided.

The move comes as a relative surprise but makes sense with the Cubs calling up top prospect Matt Mervis. Cooper was an under-the-radar addition by the Cubs this offseason on a minor-league contract and immediately appeared to be outplaying the deal, slashing .270/.341/.432 with a .774 OPS, one home run and six RBI in 41 plate appearances. He also produced an above-average 118 wRC+.

But Mervis, who has steadily risen through the Cubs' farm system, left the team with little choice but to call him up. In 82 plate appearances this season, he's hit .288/.402/.606 with a 151 wRC+ and five home runs and at only 26 years old, figures to be a long-term foundational piece in Chicago.

Cooper, a 33-year-old former All-Star, also had a .391 batting average on balls in play, significantly above the .290 league average (hat tip to MLB Trade Rumors). He also has struck out 31.7 percent of at-bats, which is slightly above his career average. Despite that, he should draw immediate interest on the free-agent market and one team that makes sense is the Boston Red Sox.

Red Sox, Pirates could pick up Garrett Cooper

The Red Sox showed interest in Cooper this offseason, sources say. They will be without promising young first baseman Triston Casas, who is out “a while” with a fractured rib, the team announced, and have a clear and obvious need for Cooper at first base.

Cooper would be a low-cost addition for the Red Sox, who aggressively scoured the market for such options this winter. They signed C.J. Cron, only to release him before Opening Day, and also considered options such as Gio Urshela in addition to Cooper.

Another team that could make sense for Cooper is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their current first baseman, Rowdy Tellez, has struggled mightily to the tune of a .203/.282/.250 slashline with a .532 OPS. But all indications are that the Pirates are not expected to be in the hunt for Cooper, who also have Connor Joe as a right-handed option.

There will certainly be other teams interested in Cooper, who could be a solid veteran option for teams in need of another bat. But the Red Sox stand out as the most obvious fit.

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