#Cubs Baez to try CF

What do the Cubs do with their overload of middle infielders? Javier Baez will get some playing time in center field this winter for Santurce in the Puerto Rican winter league.

Baez played his first game for Santurce on Tuesday, his 23rd birthday, and started at second base. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday that Minor League outfield instructor Doug Dascenzo will join Baez in Puerto Rico and practice before actually starting a game in center.

“It will add to his versatility and it makes sense to do it at a moment in time when we have a bit of a hole in center field — it makes sense to see how Javy looks out there,” Epstein said. “He’s someone who’s always enjoyed taking fly balls during batting practice in center field, shagging out there, and has always looked good doing so.”

The Cubs are in the market for a center fielder with Dexter Fowler leaving via free agency. Chicago did make a qualifying offer to Fowler, which he rejected. Epstein said there is still dialogue with Fowler’s agent Casey Close.

“We’d be quite open to his return but obviously we’d have to do it in a way that fits our outlook in 2016 and beyond,” Epstein said.

Without an obvious fill-in, the Cubs will look at Baez, who spent most of 2015 at Triple-A Iowa, where he batted .324 in 70 games. In 28 games with the Cubs last season, he batted .289 with one home run, six doubles and four RBIs.

“Maybe [moving Baez to center] it creates another option for [manager Joe Maddon] late in games or as an injury fill in — who knows what it will lead to?” Epstein said. “It’ll be fun to take a look at him out there.”

— Carrie Muskat

25 Comments

Lackey signed, 2 year deal, 32 Million, pending physical.
That will shore up that #3 Rotation spot, but the Cubs lose their 1st Round Draft Pick to the Cardinals next June.

Cubs had 28th pick, Cards 30th. Plus, can possibly gain a pick if Fowler signs somewhere else

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Where is Albert Almora Jr in his developement, and when can we look forward to seeing him in Center field at Wrigley Field?

If he plays as good in Iowa as he did in Tennessee, we should see him at some point next year. When that is exactly depends on the needs of the team. If the outfield goes on a tear and just keeps on crushing it, he’ll probably be down there until September, but if someone gets injured out there, he’ll be the first one brought up for sure.

Defensively, Almora is ready. It’s the hitting that has taken some time

The Cubs have plenty of clout in the lineup, especially now that Zobrist has signed.
What do the Cubs need in CF? According to most experts, the Cubs need defense in CF.
Also according to more than a few experts, Almora is ML ready defensively in CF. It is his bat that’s holding him back. I am not a huge Almora fan, due to his constant trips to the DL.
Now according to Maddon, the 9th slot in the Batting order is really like a 2nd leadoff hitter. Now that Fowler is gone, move Russell to leadoff, he will see better pitches there, especially hitting in front of Zobrist or Schwarber.
Put the defensive ready Almora in CF, bat him 9th. Whatever they get out of his Bat will be a bonus, plus CF is in great shape defensively.
No money for Span, as he is not needed. Then if they still insist on OF help, sign Heyward.
That still gives them Soler & Baez if they feel a need to make another trade.

Aloha Carrie & Jasper- I was thinking about Zobrist as a lead-off but I do like Russell up there first and a Zobrist would protect him as you say, better pitches. I too agree with you in terms of Span, he is now not needed. I would not mind Baez getting a shot out there but if down the road he nets a Sonny Gray then another option for CF has to be there and I understand your logic with Almora now and giving him time to adjust to the ml pitching just like how Maddon did for Russell last year. I am not against the signing of a Heyward. Take care now. Mahalo!

Hey K.g. On Heyward, whatever Management decides, I am sure will be best. I am just not sure if the Cubs really want to sign him, or just driving the price up on the Cardinals. Either way, I am sure it will work out for the Cubs. lol
I really doubt with the signing of Lackey/Cahill and the trade for Warren that a Gray trade will happen now. It would be great though.🙂

Aloha jasper- agreed about Heyward; I think the Cubs help drive up the price for Price too! I will say, Heyward and his agent have to see what the Cubs have done in the off-season as well as the Cardinals and they have to ask themselves, which organization do you want to be a part of?! Of course I am biased and not saying that Heyward would take a smaller contract to come to Chicago but it might be worth it as they gave an offer to Price to make one to Heyward without giving away the bank and if he goes for it great. I also agree about Gray right now. If things do not work out for the A’s this coming season and the Cubs are in the thick of a race and are need of pitching that is when I could see a chance arise. I hope Gray has a great year, one of those I would keep on the radar for the future if you know what I mean. Mahalo!

Aloha jasper- thinking about this more, meaning Heyward. I think he is a good player, mainly right field. Not a power hitter, good contact hitter. So, I do not think it prudent to get tied up in a long contract and over 200mil, like some think he will command. That hurts the future in trying to secure your young talent or work on an extension with an Arrieta. One reason I like both the Lackey and Zobrist offers of only 2 and 4yrs. Heyward is looking for a much longer contract and I think the managements experiment with Baez in CF is a good option until they think Almora can come up. I will stick my neck out and say I believe Baez due to his athleticism will be better than Fowler. Mind you he will has his growing pains, learning curve but again I think he is better. Now with Zobrist you can have the both of them platooning in CF to help out Schwarber/Soler whomever. Take care now. Mahalo!

Phil Rogers was on the MLB Network this morning, and he reported the Cubs have Jason Heyward on their radar. I do not see how that`s a possibility, given what we have been told, namely that the Cubs are not going to be doing any mega-deals. It`s widely agreed by knowledgeable observers that Heyward`s contract will be in the $200M neighborhood. Something here does not compute. Were Heyward to become a Cub, it would solve the centerfield issue, as he could be plugged in there initially, but most see him moving to right eventually. Heyward would not need to bat lead-off, as has been suggested; Zobrist or Russell would be better suited for that role. It`s still a longshot Heyward becomes a Cub, but it does not cost anything to ruminate.

I wouldn’t say it’s a longshot for Heyward to sign with the Cubs, as multiple sources are reporting that it’s down to the Cubs, Cards and Angels for him. As for the Cubs and another mega deal, I think we should look at this potential deal like they looked at the Tanaka almost-deal a few years ago. While the Cubs were in no position to compete that season and weren’t looking to add payroll, they felt that Tanaka would still be in his prime by the end of the contract and therefore they could add his salary without feeling bad about it. Again, they had the money then, they just didn’t want to spend it for the sake of spending it. And even now, I don’t doubt that they have money to spend, but they want to spend it wisely or not at all (really, not at all being put it in the extend Arrieta and/or lock up Bryant, Russell & Schwarber fund). Given Heyward’s age, I think it’s safe to say that he’ll still be a valuable player 6 or 7 years down the line and therefore would be worth much of any large deal that he signs. So if the Cubs get him, then great. If not, then I would look towards a shorter-term deal with Denard Span or Gerardo Parra or someone else of that likeness, instead of going big on Alex Gordon (who we haven’t heard much about lately) or Yoenis Cespedes. And things have been quiet around Justin Upton, haven’t they? Not saying the Cubs should go after him, but I’m kind of surprised that his name hasn’t really been mentioned much by anyone so far this offseason.

IAN HAPP IS WHO STARTED IN CENTER OR DEWEY WHATS IS NAME THEY ARE BETTER HITTERS THAN ALMORA AND AS GOOD OF A DEFENSIVELY AS ALMORA

From what I have read on Happ, he doesn’t have a great arm in CF.

Yeah, it seems like Happ might eventually move to the infield, like 2nd base. Maybe he pushes Ben Zobrist to the OF full time in a year or two? I wouldn’t give up on Almora just yet, but I wouldn’t call him up and bat him 9th just yet either. Remember, Corey Patterson was a plus defender whose bat still needed work and was called up well before he could get that work in. If it’s defense you want with a questionable bat to hit 9th, I’d rather see… wait for it… Matt Szczur in that role and Almora take more time at AAA. NOTE: I do not want to see Matt Szczur in the starting lineup in 2016! But we all know how much people around her love Matt Szczur, so why not throw them a bone for Christmas?

lol Doug. Merry Christmas to you too.
How about a Szczur/Almora platoon?🙂

Junior Lake just got DFAed by the Orioles. Maybe the Cubs can get him back and give him that chance that he always needed and never got the first time around?😉

Don’t see that happening. Never forget that out of the gate start of Lakes when he reached the Majors, but he pretty much put the ole nail in the coffin with Maddon, running the bases after the only Home Run he hit with the Cubs last year.

Aloha jasper- Well Doug beat me to it; Lake being DFA’d and the Orioles picked up Olmos! Gosh, Olmos he would have been interesting to see. Figure the Orioles are still upset seeing another pitcher named Arrieta doing well! And hearing that Heyward is looking for $24mil a year for an eight to nine year deal is a lot in my opinion. I was glad that this FO did not give in to the Shark, Zimmerman, Price. Instead getting vets like Lackey and Zobrist to work with the young folks and these two gentlemen have worked with Maddon before, so they know his style. Joe is building “his” team and it is looking formidable. I agree that with Almora, he can stay in the minors to work more on his batting so use Baez/Zobrist/even Szczur. Save the funds for other possibilities. And there is also Billy McKinney, who can play CF too! The fact that only one major player from this past season, Castro, was traded and the whole is still intact is encouraging because down the line if a trade is needed next July for a pitcher or position player, the organization has options. This team looks very good right now going into ST and will reiterate that I know Heyward is good and will be for years to come but I think this team will do fine without him. Take care. Mahalo!

Well, there is Heyward. Rumor are he signed for less to be a Cub and signed to play CF.

Now they have a full field and just need to upgrade where they can. With the FA signings and good at every position with Contreras on the way at Catcher, The next 3 or 4 years. What do they need?
Another Ace?
What do they have to work with?

Soler or Baez, Edwards, Candelario, Almora, McKinney, Hammel, Hendricks, Wood, Beeler, Jokich, Medina, Rosscup, Alcantara, Vogelbach, Villanueva, Coghlan, Szczur, Zagunis and so much more talent in the Organization that cant make this team for a couple years.

Aloha jasper, my father broke the news early and I wanted to check in. I hope the retain Soler if possible but understand if he is moved. I think with the defensive upgrades, Zobrist & Heyward plus a vet pitcher like Lackey, do they need another SP or do they let their current folks fight it out and compete for the final spots? I will say this the A’s must be thinking what the FO in the future might trade for a Gray…Take care. Mahalo!

They have so many prospects, a few with ML experience. I am sure they could trade for a young Ace now.
Of course, if they choose to do so.

This is big, k.g., and y`all. The thing about Heyward is the fact that he has probably not yet reached his prime. As Mad Dog (Chris Russo) has pointed out over and over, Heyward hit just 13 dingers and drove in a meager 60 runs in 2015. (Russo is exasperated that Heyward is commanding the kind of money he is. Mad Dog believes the $200M neighborhood should be the domain of hitters who clout 30 homers and drive in 100.) {Russo is the host of `High Heat` on the MLB Network seen weekdays at 1:00 PM Eastern.} But it`s the numbers he may yet put up in the future that he`s being compensated for. Price and Greinke are being paid for what they`ve already accomplished; not so with Jason. He`s just 26. He plays great defense and has an outstanding arm. {I trust y`all recall him nailing Rizzo at home plate in a late season contest at Wrigley in September when Anthony was trying to score on a sac fly. Some were critical of the Cubs` third base coach in that instance for sending Rizzo, but the larger point is Heyward has a heckuva an arm.} I must also add, Theo Epstein is contradicting himself with this signing. I recall distinctly many weeks ago Mr. Epstein stating that he did not anticipate the Cubs doing any deals similar to the $155M Lester contract.This Heyward signing exceeds the Lester deal by far. I must hastily add, however, that Theo Epstein reconsidered in this instance, and made an exception. I`m ever so pleased Theo did so, as I love this Heyward signing. You`ll recall the 2015 NLDS with the Cubs versus the Cardinals. There were two batters in the Cardinals` order who were consistently `tough outs` in that entire series. One was Carpenter; the other was Jason Heyward, and he`s now a Cub.

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