Morning Marquee: Who will the Chicago Cubs have batting lead-off?

Dec 9, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon stands with newly signed infielder Ben Zobrist at a press conference during the MLB winter meetings at Gaylord Opryland Resort. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 9, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon stands with newly signed infielder Ben Zobrist at a press conference during the MLB winter meetings at Gaylord Opryland Resort. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports /
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When the Chicago Cubs went out and signed free agent outfielder Jason Heyward, the chances of center fielder Dexter Fowler returning to the North Side seemed unlikely.

Fowler provided the Cubs with a solid bat and reliable glove in the outfield. Once the season wrapped and the Cubs were eliminated from the National League Championship Series, he rejected a qualifying offer, making him a free agent.

There’s still a possibility that they start talking to the soon-to-be 30-year-old Atlanta, Georgia native but it wouldn’t feel right seeing him come off the bench.

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The only way I see him returning in 2016 is if the Cubs found a suitor for right fielder Jorge Soler and moving Heyward back to his primary position to fill the gap. Yes, it would be upsetting to see another rising star on the move (Starlin Castro to the Yankees), but Soler had a few issues last season that kept him on the disabled list for some time.

Joe Maddon and Ben Zobrist‘s former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, could be a team on the list of those who may be interested in acquiring the young slugger in exchange for pitching.

But for now, guys such as Heyward, Russell, and Zobrist will more than likely lead-off for the Cubs in 2016. Russell found himself at the bottom of the batting order last season, but knowing Joe, things can change at any given time.

That’s one of the great things about having him as a manager. This club is stacked with so much talent on the 25-man roster, he has so many options available to him.

Spring Training is just around the corner, so we’ll have to wait and see what he has in store for us.

Here are a few stories you may have missed:

Chicago Cubs: Should Maddon have Heyward lead-off over Zobrist?‘ – Cubbies Crib

Cubbies Crib seeking new staff writers, Cubs fans‘ – Cubbies Crib

Chicago Cubs 2016 broadcast schedule released‘ – Cubbies Crib

Donaldson, Jays agree to two-year deal‘ – MLB

Pollock, D’backs agree to two-year deal‘ – MLB

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