Chicago Cubs: Albert Almora might be team’s most expendable asset

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

While the Chicago Cubs offseason has yet to take off in any sort of direction, changes from the 2018 roster seem imminent. A trade involving center fielder Albert Almora could be on the horizon for a team with more pressing needs.

By showcasing elite defense and impeccable baseball instincts, Albert Almora has rightfully solidified himself as a Chicago Cubs fan favorite on the  North Side.

With increased playing time in 2018, Almora thrived both at the plate and in the field. Almora put up a healthy .286 batting average and had an impressive nine Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).

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At the young age of 24, Almora is destined to be a very good major leaguer. He just might not be what the Cubs need right now.

Lack of patience

Almora is an aggressive hitter by nature, which can be beneficial if a player gets a pitch that they can do damage with early in counts. It has also proven to hurt him, as he often gets into “swing mode”, and falls victim to trying to swing his way out of prolonged slumps.

Almora simply doesn’t possess the power needed to be a valuable hitter without taking walks.

In his 444 at-bats, Almora hit just five home runs and slugged just .378. His .323 OBP was beneath fellow outfielders Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and part-time outfielder Ben Zobrist.

Maybe Almora’s power will develop, but Happ and Schwarber have an extreme advantage in that department as well. After the Cubs’ second-half offensive slump, it became clear they need players who are willing to do whatever it takes to reach base and drive in runs. If Almora doesn’t develop either skill before the 2019 season, then he could profile as more of a late-inning defensive replacement.

More competition coming?

Reports from The Athletic‘s Jim Bowden (sub required) surfaced last week that Theo Epstein was looking to acquire a “professional hitter”.

"“Theo Epstein knows this is a critical year for him. So en though he is downplaying spending any money, my understanding is behind the scenes he is working diligently and he has said he is going to get another professional hitter for that lineup. There is pressure for him to get that, I think he’s going to do it, especially next week in Vegas.”"

That report could mean a lot of different things. It does not necessarily mean that the Cubs are in on Bryce Harper, or any other high-priced talent. If Epstein does land a proven hitter for his lineup, it would likely add to the current log-jam in the Cubs outfield. In that scenario, the Cubs would almost certainly have to make one or more of their young outfielders available to other teams.

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There is no doubt in my mind that Almora will develop into an outstanding player, and any team would be lucky to have him. Unfortunately, the Cubs’ window for a championship is right now, and the organization doesn’t have time to wait around.