Cubs Rumors: Keep an eye on the team’s young outfielders
When you’re looking to avoid a complete tank and win long-term, as a franchise, you’re going to want high-ceiling, controllable players. Chicago happens to have quite a few of those.
The list has to start with the likes of Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. These are clearly the three biggest names on the roster that are likely to move this offseason. You can likely include guys like Addison Russell and Victor Caratini on this list, as well – but neither will fetch anywhere near what those first three guys could.
Almora played incredibly well in the first half of 2018, hitting .319/.357/.438 while giving Joe Maddon elite defense in center field. He faded badly down the stretch, but more than a few folks have blamed a lack of consistent at-bats for his decline more than anything else.
As for Happ, his swing-and-miss tendencies grew old quickly this year. His on-base percentage climbed year-over-year, but his power seemingly evaporated from his rookie campaign. Happ’s slugging percentage plummeted – falling from .514 to .408 year-over-year. He was exactly league average (100 OPS+) as an offensive player but hit just .233 on the season.
Still, he’s a switch hitter with decent pop who can play pretty much anywhere on the diamond. That has a ton of value to most teams, including the Cubs (and Mariners, for that matter).
Lastly, Schwarber comes off one of his most promising seasons in the big leagues. He put up a 115 OPS+, hit 26 home runs and put up a personal best .356 OBP across 137 games. Much like the entire Cubs offense, he faded down the stretch, but there was a lot to like about what he brought to the team on a daily basis.
Other names you might want to keep an eye on? As mentioned, Russell and Caratini make sense – especially if the Mariners are looking to unload someone like Jean Segura. With that thinking, Cubs prospect Miguel Amaya – a catcher – could also be an ideal target for the M’s given their recent trade of Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays.