Despite playing a constantly-changing role, David Bote lived up to his contract extension, performing especially well down the stretch for the Chicago Cubs.
When the Cubs fell flat on their faces over the season’s final two weeks, all the good work from several individual players went right out the window. No one cared about those performances because at the end of the day, they weren’t enough to help Chicago reach the postseason.
That makes sense – at least to a degree. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about: winning a World Series. But as we enter an offseason that will be unlike any we’ve seen on the North Side for more than a half-decade, it’s important to keep some perspective when looking at players who could return in 2020.
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One of those guys who almost certainly will be back for the Cubs next season is David Bote.
The 26-year-old infielder built on his breakout rookie campaign with another solid showing in 2019. Across 127 games, Bote worked to a .362 on-base percentage, which ranked third on the team, trailing only Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.
After the All-Star Break, Bote really cranked it up a notch – getting on base at an impressive .425 rate. Given he plays multiple positions, it’s worth asking if, in the post-Joe Maddon era, we’ll see Bote get a shot at a more established role moving forward.
The most obvious fit could be second base, where the Cubs got next to no production from the likes of Addison Russell and the sidelined Ben Zobrist (who should absolutely get a shot to return as a bench piece if he so desires). Without Zobrist’s presence in the lineup, Chicago looked like a totally different team at the plate and opponents made them pay.
Now, I’ll admit. There’s plenty of work to be done when it comes to Bote’s defense. But he wasn’t nearly as bad as some out there seem to suggest. He clocked in with 4 DRS and an even 0.0 UZR at second base. I’ll take that any day of the week, especially when he’s getting on base 40 percent of the time.
Heading into the postseason, I opined Howie Kendrick would be an ideal fit for the team’s need at second base. He still might be – in fact, he might be the perfect part-time piece – but after his performance in October, I’d imagine probably two dozen other teams feel the same way about him, as well.
If Chicago really is limited financially – or are making the choice to hold back a bit this offseason – then the money needs to go to a quality center fielder and arms to replace the trio of outgoing free agent relievers who have been some critical in recent years. Bote has done more than enough to get a shot at the everyday second base role.