Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez making the transition to play center field this winter


So far this off-season, the Chicago Cubs have acquired multiple arms for both the starting rotation and bullpen. One came from the Colorado Rockies, the other from their N.L. Central rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Now that the Cubs have found themselves a reliable No. 3 starter in 37-year-old John Lackey to back up Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, it’s time for them to turn their attention to a position with a huge gap in it. Center field.

Not too long ago, veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler rejected a qualifying offer that was submitted by the Chicago Cubs, making himself a free agent.

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There’s still no word on where Fowler stands with the Cubs, leaving the door wide open for either free agents Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon, or Austin Jackson to take the spot on the depth chart. It would be nice to see the switch-hitter return, but this is a business, and the business side of professional sports can be harsh.

With Chris Coghlan‘s contract being tendered by the front-office, Chicago will have him back to split playing time with Kyle Schwarber/Kris Bryant out in left field and fill in for Jorge Soler out in right.

Now according to ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, infielder Javier Baez will be getting some playing time in center field this winter. An interesting decision, but not a bad one when you think about it.

When making a change at the big league level, it’s always a plus to have a great manager behind you. Someone who believes in your ability to branch out and willing to help your baseball team even if you feel like you’re out of your comfort level.

That’s exactly what Joe Maddon is doing. Believing in his young slugger who helped finish off the Cardinals at Wrigley Field during the National League Division Series.

"“There’s no doubt he could do it, but he’s so good in the infield. It’s rare to find someone that fields the baseball as well as he does. Game in progress, I think he can do it. You really want to start him on the dirt if you get the chance though.” Maddon via ESPN Chicago"

In the article, the 23-year-old Puerto Rican-born infielder stated that he learned to play outfield when he was growing up by reading the ball off the bat. He continued on by saying that it was something he was really good at, so he kept working on it.

If, he does, indeed find himself out in center field from time-to-time, it wouldn’t be for very long. You have prospects Albert Almora and Billy McKinney making their way through the minor league circuit and could debut within the next year or two.