Looking to round out the outfield picture, the Chicago Cubs have brought back veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin on a minor-league deal with an invite to big league camp.
Chicago acquired Maybin from Detroit at the trade deadline last summer for minor leaguer Zack Short and he appeared in 18 games for the Cubs in the shortened season. Long a pretty suspect offensive player, the veteran finished the year with an 87 OPS+, including an 80 OPS+ with the North Siders.
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He faces an uphill battle if he wants to earn a spot on this roster. Jason Heyward has right field on lockdown and, based on what we saw last year, it seems pretty likely we’ll see someone like Phil Ervin or Jake Marisnick platoon out there, as well. Ian Happ, fresh off his arbitration hearing win over the organization, is the starting center fielder and Joc Pederson will handle the bulk of duties in left field.
Assuming the typical trio is Pederson-Happ-Heyward, that leaves Ervin, Marisnick and Maybin all battling for that fourth outfielder role. Keep in mind we will also likely see Kris Bryant in corner outfield spots from time to time, as well.
Cubs should focus on infield depth
Rather than carrying multiple backup outfielders, it seems far more likely the team will focus on the infield given Bryant’s ability to move to the outfield when needed.
Second base looks like a major problem for the Cubs right now – with David Bote and Nico Hoerner entering camp as the front-runners for the role. Of course, a Bryant trade would further muddy the depth picture for this team, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. The takeaway here is simple: the Cubs have a major problem when it comes to contingency plans in the infield.
This could mean that, barring a strong spring or an injury, Maybin could be left as the odd man out in the grand scheme of things. The former first-rounder has never quite lived up to the hype and there’s little reason in my mind to think he’ll break camp with the big league club at the end of March.