Grading the projected Chicago Cubs roster's defense by position

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Leftfield: A-

Depth: Ian Happ, Alexander Canario, Mike Tauchman, Christopher Morel

Happ won his second consecutive Gold Glove in 2023, posting a career-high 10.7 UZR and leading left fielders in assists with 12. His DRS and OAA were significantly lower than 2022 (13 DRS in 2022 vs. 2 DRS in 2023) but his efforts were still enough to win him more hardware. Tauchman has played more innings in left than any other spot, and sports a career 18 DRS, 9 OAA, and 7.9 UZR there. Canario has played very little left in the Majors but he could get more chances to play more outfield in the Majors in 2024. If Happ is the regular and Tauchman is the backup in left, the Cubs are in good hands defensively out there.

Centerfield: B

Depth: Cody Bellinger, Mike Tauchman, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Alexander Canario

The ceiling for Crow-Armstrong is so high, but time will tell if he makes the Opening Day roster. It feels like he will start in Iowa, and assuming he does, then Bellinger is the starting centerfielder followed by Tauchman. Bellinger is a career 11 DRS and 22 OAA centerfielder and can be relied upon to do the job efficiently. Tauchman provides solid defense in center as he does all over the outfield. Who can forget the epic catch he made against the Cardinals last year? In total, he sports a 4 OAA and 6 DRS in center. If Crow-Armstrong is what he projects to be as a fielder, then things will get really exciting.

Rightfield: C

Depth: Seiya Suzuki, Mike Tauchman, Alexander Canario

One can look at Suzuki's fielding and think immediately of that missed flyball in Atlanta last September, but that will not be used as the sole evaluation point. Last year he posted a 2 OAA, 2 DRS, 0.3 UZR, and -3.1 Def (6th out of 12 among qualified right fielders). If these numbers are the key metrics in judging his defense, then he is around a middle-of-the-road defensive right fielder with more room to grow. He does have a pretty good arm out there. 2023 was an improvement from the -4 DRS, -4 OAA fielder we saw in his first season in the Majors and maybe he can take another step. Getting acclimated to Wrigley Field's outfield can take time after all. Tauchman has played in 396 MLB innings in right and sports a 1 OAA and 3 DRS so another solid backup.

So to sum it all up:

A: 3

B: 2

C: 2

D: 1

F: 0

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