Who’s On Third? Could Javier Baez Be A Sleeper?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next couple of weeks we’re taking look at some of the possibilities at third base for the Cubs. While there seems to be a plan already in place, things can change. And it’s spring training, part of the fun is discussing what could be. This time we take a look at a long shot…a real long shot.

Javier Baez is a long shot on the list for several reasons. Most importantly, the Cubs want to keep him at shortstop at Iowa. Rick Renteria discussed this recently.

“You never want to remove a shortstop from shortstop,” Renteria said. “So if we have the luxury of being able to have Starlin at the major-league level and (Baez) at Triple-A, why wouldn’t we do that? Once again, he’s a guy who’s impressed everybody. He has some skill and we want him to continue to improve and mature and be the player we hope he will become in the end.”

Secondly, the Cubs are in no hurry to get him to the majors. Baez has indeed shown what talent he has, but when he gets to Chicago, the Cubs want him to stay there. Lastly, it requires a position change that the Cubs don’t really seem to address as something they are looking to make. The Cubs have two players in Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy, who we’ll talk about in later installments, that look to be the go-to guys at third. But these aren’t set in stone in my opinion. Both performed admirably last season when given the chance, and the Cubs third base conglomerate matched up well overall versus the position league wide. But if someone sets Mesa on fire, I think the possibility has to be considered in that the third base position for the Cubs isn’t something most fans are real keen on.

I equate this to several years ago when Tyler Colvin knocked the cover off the ball in the spring and forced the Cubs to make a decision. He earned a spot on the 25-man roster out of camp, and performed well in his limited time. In the end, Colvin never seemed to regain his stroke after taking the broken bat to the sternum in a late season game, which wasn’t considered a serious injury. It’s a different leadership group now, and even if Baez does amazing things in the spring, it may still just equal a pat on the back a bus ticket to Iowa.

Much of this talk is driven by circumstance. Possibly “blocked” by a player on the Major League roster, or just how long to wait till they are truly ready. My patience as a Cubs fan is still relatively intact. I can wait to see Baez later this season. There’s no reason, no matter what his numbers this spring, that he shouldn’t open up in Triple-A.

Get the at-bats, continue working on defense. If things should arise later this season and he’s needed to fill in for an injury, he’ll hopefully be ready. The wait to see Baez in Chicago will likely continue, but I think it’s the right move.

 

Topics: Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez

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