Chicago Cubs: It might be tough, but it’s time to move Almora
Unlike Addison Russell, who’s given us all kinds of reasons to not particularly care for him, Albert Almora is a genuinely good guy who may very well still turn out to be a quality big league player.
That being said, his performance in 2019 can only be described as abysmal. The former first-round pick struggled on both sides of the ball and really never seemed to recover mentally from lining a ball into the stands in Houston in late May and injuring a young fan.
Who knows if that alone contributed to his struggles, but Almora took several steps in the wrong direction this year. Always a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder, most defensive metrics pegged him as solidly below-average. The routes he regularly took to balls were suspect, at best – and his lack of production at the plate certainly didn’t help matters, either.
In 363 plate appearances, Almora slashed .236/.271/.381. Now, don’t get me wrong, he’s never been an on-base machine. His OBP is annually buoyed by a batting average that, until this season, hovered somewhere in the .280-.290 range which, if you can work counts and get walks, could be a recipe for long-term success.
But Almora hasn’t even shown he’s capable of doing that – and when his average bottomed out in 2019, you really saw how big of a hole in his game this is offensively. His total body of work netted a ghastly 64 wRC+ and -0.7 WAR, according to Fangraphs. He played a big part in the Cubs’ center field production, or lack thereof, that graded out as the seventh-worst in baseball.
By moving Almora and Russell off the roster, the Cubs could add roughly $7 million back to their budget for the winter. I think Almora winds up traded somewhere he can get a clean slate and the team non-tenders Russell at long last, giving them increased flexibility financially in a pivotal offseason.