The drastic turnover of the roster continues at the offices of Gallagher Way, this time with an outfielder who may have never lived up to the hype but played a critical role in the team’s 2016 World Series run.
The Cubs have entered re-tool mode and it really isn’t all that bad. After watching multiple players sign elsewhere or get traded, this week we watched another former first-rounder’s time with the team come to an end over the weekend as Albert Almora signed with the New York Mets.
Almora was the Cubs’ sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft and he had so much potential for a long, successful career in Chicago. After agreeing to a contract with the Mets, we have to watch him continue his career elsewhere and it may be the best scenario for both sides.
The 26-year-old center fielder’s career started off so promising. During his first two seasons in 2016 and 2017, he hit .287 with an OPS of .772 and showed a lot of flash in what appeared to be the glue out in center field. HIs ability to hit for average made for the perfect fit on a Cubs’ roster who struggled in that area at times.
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However, he showed regression and even though you can say the same with a lot of other players on this roster, the fit didn’t seem to be there anymore. His average and OPS have declined in each of the past three seasons and he finished out 2020 with a .167 average and .465 OPS. It’s also worth noting his strikeout rate was at 26.5 percent, a personal high.
Almora’s game no longer fits what the Cubs are looking to do. He’s not the contact/on-base guy we thought he may someday become and this team has options in the outfield that are, at the end of the day, just better.
Cubs going with a new outfield look
Ian Happ, Joc Pederson Jason Heyward and Phil Ervin provide a decent group in the outfield and we can all agree watching Almora head off to the Big Apple won’t be the most disappointing breakup we’ve had this offseason.
It will be interesting to see how Almora fits into the Mets plans, as they have also added Jose Martinez to the outfield mix this offseason. New York should be careful making him their starting center fielder and the best thing would be to make him a late-inning replacement or pinch hitter until he can prove to be the player we once saw at the beginning of this career.
It’s tough to see another of Theo Epstein’s big draft picks struggle to pan out with the Cubs after we already watched Kyle Schwarber, Epstein’s fourth pick in 2014, sign with the Nationals this offseason. That’s just the harsh truth sometimes and no matter how awesome Epstein was for this organization, he is human and is going to make some moves that don’t work in the end.
We wish Almora the best of luck in New York and will always be grateful for the contributions he made to this team and the championship he helped bring us.