Chicago Cubs: When (or) will Albert Almora debut with the Cubs?
Albert Almora is on the cusp of making his big league debut, but due to organizational depth, it most likely will not occur with the Chicago Cubs.
Friday, the Chicago Cubs announced that they invited 18 non-roster players to spring training. Included in this group of players is center fielder and 2012 first round pick Albert Almora, who most recently played with Double-A Tennessee in 2015.
While it is true Almora is not quite ready for the big leagues just yet, his situation presents an interesting dilemma for the Cubs. The team has Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler entrenched as its starters in the outfield, leaving no room for Almora to play even if he was ready to be called up.
With that being said, what does this mean for Almora? He will be 22-years-old shortly after Opening Day, still very young for a player who has not made his MLB debut.
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However, Almora was drafted when he was 18, nearly four years ago. How much more time in the minor leagues does he really need?
The problem that the Cubs have given themselves is stocking up too much talent in their outfield. In addition to Schwarber, Heyward, Soler, and Almora, the team has 2015 first round pick Ian Happ in Single-A, 2013 Oakland Athletics first-round pick Billy McKinney in Double-A and 20-year-old Cuban signee Eddy Julio Martinez in their system.
What all of this means is the Cubs have seven great young outfielders on the team or in the system battling for three spots, not to mention the possibility of Javier Báez moving to the outfield as well. Clearly, moves need to be made to clear up this logjam, but which players will be the ones to go?
It is no secret that the Cubs have shown interest in acquiring young pitching, so trading an outfielder (or two) would help solve the problem. Would they trade Almora, the closest center fielder to making it to the big leagues? Martinez was no cheap investment, as it reportedly took $6 million to sign him, according to CBS Sports.
The team doesn’t have an immediate need for a center fielder, as Heyward will take over the position despite the fact that he is naturally a right fielder. This only makes a case for Almora to be traded, as Martinez could take a couple of years to develop before getting called up.
Not only would this move help clear the outfield logjam, but it would give Almora a chance to actually play in the major leagues when he is ready. As of now, Almora would have no shot to play for the Cubs unless Heyward gets injured. By trading him, Almora would get the playing time at the big league level that he deserves.
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All in all, the Cubs have a depth problem that many, if not all organizations would love to have. Almora is a talented young player who is ready or nearly ready for the big leagues. Regardless, it is evident that his debut will not happen to roam around in front of the ivy-covered walls in Wrigley Field as a member of the Cubs.