Chicago Cubs: Center field is team’s biggest concern in the outfield
If second base was the biggest hole in the infield, center field was just as ineffective in the outfield. The Cubs could not get much production out of anyone in center despite having a “regular” in Albert Almora.
Almora took major steps backward after a solid 2018 campaign, posting a 66 OPS+ and -7 defensive runs saved. Though it’s painful to see his offense regress, his defensive decline is most troubling considering he saved 12 runs just last year and defense has been one of his strongest assets thus far.
Once the team traded for Nicholas Castellanos, Jason Heyward got the lion’s share of time in center field with Almora struggling. Heyward provided adequate defense in center while posting a 98 OPS+, but he is better utilized in right field where his defense is gold glove caliber.
This is where the Chicago Cubs need to make some sort of acquisition, especially considering they don’t have a quality prospect to play center field next year. Also, while Heyward is serviceable in center, keeping him there long term only limits the production of the outfield.
There may be a case for Happ to play center field, but he’s still a question mark considering he wasn’t even on the major league roster for most of the season. Once he came back though, he showed a definite improvement at the plate, posting a a 126 OPS+ and slugging at a .546 clip in an admittedly small sample size.
Even if the team re-signs Castellanos and Happ continues showing signs of improvement, a solid center fielder should remain at the top of their shopping list. When a position is only garnering a measly 86 OPS+, something needs to be drastically changed.