Cubs need David Bote to step up and win the second base job

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Cubs are finally back in action as spring training games are underway. After a long offseason full of ups and downs, this roster is set and ready to prove a lot of people wrong.

A lot of moves were made to shore up key positions in the rotation, bullpen and outfield. However, one of the spots that still has a question mark is at second base. With no big signings to shore up that part of the infield, the Cubs will once again need to call on internal pieces to step up. One name that really can’t be overlooked is David Bote.

Bote signed a five-year extension back in 2019 for about $15 million. The story of how he got the extension is as straightforward as they come as he went into Theo Epstein’s office and asked for one. Epstein liked the idea as it could give Bote more stability as he was beginning to raise a family and his performance had warranted it. Now Bote enters the 2021 season with a lot to prove and a great opportunity to become an everyday player for this team.

In his career with the Cubs, Bote has posted a .240 average with a .338 on-base-percentage and .753 OPS. He has above-average power and has shown an ability to be flexible as he’s learned second base in addition to his primary spot at third.

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Bote really is the X-factor for this team. If he can step up and become this team’s everyday second baseman, it’s going to open up so many opportunities for this group. The other options at second are Ildemaro Vargas and Nico Hoerner. In an ideal world, though, Hoerner will be given the opportunity to spend time in Iowa to finish developing.

Without a go-to guy at second, we could see a lot of mixing and matching over the course of the season. If the job ends up going to Bote, Chicago would – admittedly – end up losing a clutch bench presence, but that would be a small price to pay.

Cubs: David Bote has been clutch in his career

We know Bote is clutch –  is one of the reasons he’s becoming a fan favorite. We all remember his bases-loaded grand slam in the bottom of the ninth down 3-0 to crush the Nationals in 2018 and that’s symbolic of the type of energy he brings to this group.

He has a knack for finding a hit when the Cubs need it most and he has the tools to blossom into an everyday player. His walk rate of 11.3 percent checks in well above the MLB average of 8.6 percent – another good sign of his patience at the plate.

The one point of concern Bote needs to work on is his strikeout rate of 27.1 percent – which is well above the MLB average of 22.7 percent. If he can shore this up, the other pieces of his game make him a no-brainer for this lineup.

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Ideally it would’ve been great for Jed Hoyer to add another middle infielder from free agency but this now gives Bote the chance to earn his extension and prove he’s worth it. I’m excited for Bote to get another chance in the spotlight and if the clutch gene we’ve seen from him over the years is any indication, he’s going to take great advantage of more time on the field.