Chicago Cubs need Jason Heyward to play centerfield especially if his bat doesn’t improve

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
4 of 5
Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Looking ahead

Moving Heyward to center field opens up a number of possibilities in right field. If the Cubs are able to sign Bryce Harper for the 2019 season, they are going to need a corner outfield spot for him. During this coming season, Baez is expected to continue to get increased playing time at second base, which means if Ben Zobrist is going to find a way into the lineup it will be with his outfield glove more often than his infield glove. And Zobrist is the closest thing the Cubs have to a natural leadoff hitter.

Although Bryant played significantly less in the outfield last year than he did in 2016, Maddon may need to do so to get a player like Tommy La Stella in the lineup without altering the double play combination. That’s what Maddon did in his first playoff game as manager of the Cubs. In the 2015 wildcard game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Maddon started Bryant in right field, so that he could play La Stella at third.

Bryant will still probably get most of his starts at third base, but having the flexibility to move him out there allows Maddon to use almost anyone who can play third to take at-bats that might otherwise have to go to an outfielder. Perhaps this season even Victor Caratini might get a few at-bats that way.

If Happ continues to play center field when he is in the outfield alongside Heyward in right, I am not going to complain about that. If Maddon thinks that is the best alignment with those two, I’m not going to argue with that decision.