Cubs: Will Alfonso Rivas and Frank Schwindel split time at first?
By Mia Perlman
It seems as if spring training just began, yet Opening Day at Wrigley Field is a little over a week away. But, you know what they say, time flies when you are having fun. On April 7, the Chicago Cubs will host the reigning NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers at the Friendly Confines. But, before then, there are still a plethora of questions that need answering.
This includes what the Chicago Cubs should do with their infield, specifically first base. With the DH coming to the National League this season, lots of teams, including the Cubs, are given more opportunities to platoon players around the diamond. With this in mind, it could make sense for the Cubs to platoon Frank Schwindel and Alfonso Rivas at first base, at least just to kick off the regular season.
Cubs: Thinking through a platoon at first with Frank Schwindel, Alfonso Rivas
The 29-year old Schwindel came into the picture when Anthony Rizzo was traded the day before the 2021 trade deadline. Schwindel was tasked with replacing one of Chicago’s most beloved players. While Rizzo and what he did, especially off the field and in the clubhouse, is irreplaceable, Schwindel still gave his best effort and immediately endeared himself to fans.
Schwindel ended up slashing .342/,389/.613. He was a positive addition to the team even in August and September when the team struggled. Though Schwindel is coming off an otherworldly second half, there is no saying he will replicate that success in 2022. As things stand, he is set to be the team’s primary first baseman.
But, considering Alfonso Rivas is in the mix, as well, it might be best to platoon the two, even just early on, to see what happens. The 25-year-old Rivas was acquired via trade from the Oakland Athletics for Tony Kemp in January 2020. He put up good numbers in 2019, but due to COVID shutting down the minor leagues in 2020, he wasn’t seen again until 2021.
He started the 2021 season in Triple-A Iowa and made his MLB debut in August of 2021. He only made 49 plate appearances, but from those plate appearances and his performance in the minors, it is clear that he has potential. Rivas is a left-handed batter who can defend and should be given a chance to develop in the major leagues in 2022 – especially given his 1.011 OPS this spring.
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Who knows, maybe Rivas will develop and earn himself a more permanent spot going forward. He has the remainder of spring training to prove himself, but so far, things are looking good for him. Whether in a platoon at first or some other spot, he’s a guy I’m keeping an eye on early on.