Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: What will be the team’s biggest storylines in 2017?

Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs player Kyle Schwarber hits a RBI single against the Cleveland Indians in the 5th inning in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs player Kyle Schwarber hits a RBI single against the Cleveland Indians in the 5th inning in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Cubs
Mar 14, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Dominican Republic outfielder Nelson Cruz (23) is forced out at second base by Puerto Rico infielder Javier Baez (9) during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Petco Park. Puerto Rico won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

Javier Baez is no longer just a trade chip

It seems like annually, the Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays are linked in trade rumors. This can be attributed to the team’s ‘opposite’ positions of strength. For Chicago, position player talent still litters the system. In Florida, the Rays have a stock of young, controllable arms – an area the Cubs are looking to improve.

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This time last year, Javier Baez was constantly mentioned as a potential trade chip for the Cubs as they eyed the future. But he silenced those rumors himself, putting up career-best numbers and drastically cutting down his strikeouts from his first taste of the big leagues.

Nicholas Blazek: The biggest story of the year will be the rise of Javier Baez. As you saw with his amazing performance in the World Baseball Classic, Baez is bound for big things in Chicago. The days of trade rumors surrounding Baez are well behind him and he’s ready to shine.

Building off recent successes

Everyone remembers his game-winning home run in Game 1 of the NLCS last season against the Dodgers and the countless outstanding defensive plays he made throughout the year. Add in how he led Team Puerto Rico to a WBC runner-up finish and it’s easy to see why the Cubs are so high on Baez.

In 2016, while playing six positions for Chicago, the former first-rounder batted .273/.314/.423 in a career-high 142 games. His free-swinging nature still needs to improve, as evidenced by his OBP last season. Still, he represents one of the most versatile young talents in all of Major League Baseball.

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