Chicago Cubs: Moving Javier Baez around the depth chart will definitely pay off
The Chicago Cubs have one of the deepest rosters at both the major and minor league level. Sitting as the favorite to win the World Series in 2016, experimenting with a few of their rising stars at different positions is a plus for skipper Joe Maddon.
Is it possible to have too much talent? Sure, you’ll have your superstars, but when looking at this roster, the Chicago Cubs have at least five men who are more than capable of adding ‘National League MVP’ to their resume.
When reviewing the depth chart, the first person who comes to mind is Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo recorded a career-high 101 RBI on top of swatting 31 homers but it wasn’t good enough to get by Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.
However, the 26-year-old continues to get better and better in the batter’s box each year, so 2016 could very well be the year in which he wins his first Most Valuable Player award. There’s no doubt he’s the main centerpiece to this team that reached the National League Championship Series last season.
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And then you have Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Jake Arrieta and Jorge Soler just to name a few. Those aside from Arrieta, have made appearances away from their primary positions in order to add a little spice to their lineup.
Bryant made several starts in the outfield in 2015 while Russell started off his big league career at second base while Starlin Castro led the way at shortstop. That is until Castro was demoted later on in the year and Russell made the jump back to short.
But before Bryant, Russell and Schwarber ever made their big league debut, 23-year-old Puerto Rican-born infielder Javier Baez was one of many prospects who made their anticipated debuts in 2014.
Baez was invited to training camp in Mesa, Arizona just two years ago where he started working out at multiple positions aside from short. Mainly second and third base considering the lack of depth the club had at the time. This time around, he’s started out in center field, first base and now second.
"“I haven’t felt weird. I’ve already seen all different angles when I’ve bee playing around, and I’m feeling good now.” – Baez via Chicago Tribune"
It feels like the Cubs are expecting him to make the Opening Night roster. Which isn’t a bad thing despite the fact that he strikes out far too much. Something that he’s been trying to work on for over a year now.
"“I have no problem instinctively with him anywhere on the field. He looks good actually. To be asked to use different gloves at different moments, he’s going to have to stretch himself a little mentally. I don’t anticipate any problem in him accepting his role. Him being able to implement his role, he’s going to have to work at it, obviously. The fact that he’s going to be moving around, he’s going to think about his defense more than his offense, which I’m hoping benefits his offense.” – Maddon via Chicago Tribune"
There’s no doubt that Zobrist will make the majority of his starts at second base, so having Javier get in as many reps at each position is going to pay off in the long-run. Especially if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer decide to make a huge trade before or on the day of the non-waiver trade deadline in July.
So as of right now, the Chicago Cubs have another utility man. For now. Javier stated in the Chicago Tribune that he doesn’t think he’d do it his whole career and is looking to maintain the role for about a year or two before finding his own position and staying with it for the future.
Only time will tell if that future will involve the Cubs.