Chicago Cubs: Looking at the current positional depth on the roster
The Chicago Cubs have a lot of depth when it comes to position players. The fact that the outfield and infield are currently “crowded” is a very good problem to have.
A key to the success of the Chicago Cubs has been depth. In today’s game, it’s become a ‘must-have’ for a contending team. We saw the importance of depth on the team when Kyle Schwarber went down in 2016. Going into 2018, the roster still has the desired positional depth.
Of course things have changed since 2016. Some players are gone and some are still on the team but have switched roles. The depth this team has shown over the past three-some years plays perfectly in Joe Maddon‘s managing style.
Looking at the team as it stands right now, there seems to be a pretty good idea of what roles players will play. Mainly based on their performances last year and their status as a major league player (inexperienced vs. experienced).
Separating the “everyday” guys to the bench and/or platoon players.
To break down the positional depth is mainly looking at role they will likely play in 2018. Starting with those who will be playing everyday, or mostly at everyday. The two obvious ones are Anthony Rizzo an Kris Bryant. They will be in there 150+ games in 2018 no question (if healthy that is). Starting catcher will be Willson Contrereas with Albert Almora Jr. looking like the starting center fielder for the time being.
The supporting cast
The rest of the roster will be playing in varying situations. The middle of the infield right now could very well be Addison Russell and Javier Baez being the duo more often than not.
That would mean Ben Zobrist being downgraded to a bench guy. Considering he is 36 and showing some decline, it would not be surprising if that were the case. Baez showed his dazzling abilities last year playing a lot at short or second, he deserves to start a lot of games.
The rest of the outfield can be platooned if needed. Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward will likely get the most starts out of anyone, but when lefty starters are on the mound, it will change. Zobrist and Ian Happ have the ability to take those spots at those times.
Happ will be tricky to get in there often, but he is another utility guy who can play infield and all outfield positions. Rounding it all out will be pinch-hitter extraordinaire/infielder platoon Tommy LaStella, current backup catcher Victor Caratini and possibly Mark Zagunis.
Overall depth chart
To simplify what what just said above. This is how one could put together a positional depth chart for 2018 when looking at the current roster.
Starters: A. Almora (CF/RF), K. Bryant (3B/RF/1B), A. Rizzo (1B), W. Contreras (C), K Schwarber (LF/DH), A Russell (SS/2B), J. Baez (2B/SS/1B), J. Heward (RF/CF)
Bench: B. Zobrist (2B/RF/LF/SS), I. Happ (2B/CF/RF), T. LaStella (2B/3B), V. Caratini (C/1B), M. Zagunis (OF)
Next: Is Arrieta ready to headline another rebuild?
Note this may not what the roster exactly is come spring training. A signing or trade can change it, but for the time being, this is what it could look like.