Chicago Cubs: Moving a fan favorite in the Mock Winter Meetings

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Chicago Cubs: Almora fills a longstanding need in Cleveland

If the Cleveland Indians want to be successful long-term, trotting Jason Kipnis out to play center field out of sheer necessity probably isn’t the best plan.

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That’s not a knock on Kipnis – he’s a great player and I have nothing against the guy. But there’s a pretty big difference between a veteran infielder playing center field and someone like Albert Almora, who looked like a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder for much of 2018.

Last season, Almora put up the best numbers of his career in the first half, slashing .319/.357/.438 heading into the All-Star Break. For much of the first few months, he held down the leadoff spot and looked to finally be turning the corner. But, down the stretch, he faded in a big way.

In the season’s second half, the former first-round pick hit just .232 with a .546 OPS. From July to September, he failed to hit north of .242 – as the team’s offense languished and played a critical role in coughing up the National League Central to the rival Brewers.

There’s no doubting what Albert Almora could be. But Joe Maddon doesn’t seem like he’s ever going to give him a starting job on a day-to-day basis, relying instead on matchups. And, given the Cubs’ glaring bullpen needs, this was a tough trade that ultimately proved necessary.