Chicago Cubs: If Baez isn’t healthy for Opening Day, who makes the roster?
Freeman might be a possibility
As great as the Cubs positional flexibility is, shortstop is one of the positions where the Cubs don’t have a lot of overlap. The depth at shortstop is Addison Russell and Baez. Last year when Russell missed some time Baez played shortstop almost every day.
Zobrist has started 196 games at shortstop in his career. But none of those have happened since he left Tampa Bay. Kris Bryant has played one career inning at shortstop. So if Baez isn’t on the Opening Day roster the Cubs don’t have a second option at shortstop.
Why they got Freeman
This is why the front office went out and acquired Mike Freeman last year after Russell went on the disabled list. Freeman is back in the Cubs organization. So if the Cubs decide they need to have a backup shortstop on the roster, Freeman is the most likely option.
However, last season he did not hit particularly well (only .160). So if Freeman makes the roster it will it be almost entirely out of defensive concerns. Unless you take into account his spring. Freeman is torching the ball, hitting .500 (14-for-28) with a home run, three doubles and eight RBI.
If Baez’s injury is seen as a short-term issue, the team may decide to try to just get by with Russell at shortstop. And maybe use Zobrist there if an emergency situation occurs. Zobrist did log 11 innings at shortstop last year. There are the usual high number of days off in the Cubs early season schedule, which will also help the Cubs manage their way through April with only one shortstop if they must.