Chicago Cubs: Five questions that need answering in Spring Training
#5: Who plays the outfield?
There is depth all over the field for the Chicago Cubs. They feature a deep rotation, several players that can play the infield, multiple catching options and eight possible outfielders.
That’s right. Eight
Granted, those eight include Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras, but that adds to the overall depth of the team. As does Matt Szczur, but he will be on the bench to start the season. It comes down to five other players.
Jason Heyward is penciled into the starting outfield, but will it be at right field or center? He will need to prove the work on his swing this offseason can produce offensively. We already know his defensive ability will be needed throughout the year.
Fitting the pieces together
This leaves the four other cast members of the outfield drama. Both Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist should be in the lineup for their hitting abilities. Some analysts seem to think Schwarber must play left field and Zobrist in right, leaving Heyward in center. This may not be the strongest defensively, forcing Heyward to cover more ground than is preferred.
The other two candidates are Jon Jay and Albert Almora. Financially, the Cubs are not spending a great deal on either, but both need at-bats in order to progress. Jay is a (mostly) proven commodity, succeeding at the plate his first five years in the majors. The young Almora showed his aggressiveness on the bases and skills in the field to be valuable.
What is the solution? Finding the balance of offense and defense that the pitching staff requires.