Two of the NL’s top clubs begin a three-game series today at Wrigley Field when the Cubs host the Nationals. Beyond just sharing impressive records, ESPN.com’s Ken Woolums notes that the Cubs have gone about their rebuilding process in a manner similar to how the Nats have reconstructed their roster prior to their current run of two NL East titles in the last three seasons. Here’s more on the Cubs…
- Javier Baez has a .944 OPS in 99 Triple-A plate appearances this season, yet ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers wonders if the former top prospect can find playing time with the Cubs no matter how well he’s hitting. Baez has been splitting time between second base and shortstop in the minors, though the Cubs are obviously set at both positions with Addison Russell and Starlin Castro. Of course, questions remain about Baez both defensively (he already has 11 errors, nine at short) and offensively (he has 24 strikeouts in his 99 PA, and nine walks) and thus the Cubs could decide he’s expendable; Rogers notes that shifting Baez between two positions could be an audition for other teams just as much as it has to do with his development. That said, Rogers also observes that the Cubs are under no pressure to swing a deal now and have plenty of time to figure out how to best deploy their numerous young talents.
- Rogers hears from league sources that the Cubs have repeatedly turned down offers for Russell and have no interest in trading him. If Chicago does decide to move a notable middle infielder, then, it would have to be Baez or Castro.
- Kyle Schwarber is another prospect who has often been rumored to eventually change positions, though Cubs director of player development Jaron Madison tells Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register that Schwarber will remain a catcher. “With all the work he’s done in the offseason and spring training and big league camp, and going into this year and what he’s done so far this year, we’re more certain than ever that he’s going to stay behind the plate long-term. We’re committed to that right now,” Madison said.
- Madison discusses several Cubs minor leaguers within that same piece, including Baez. The team doesn’t have any plans to use Baez at any positions besides second and shortstop for now, Madison said. There has been some speculation that the Cubs could make room for Baez by moving him to third and shifting Kris Bryant to left field, though Baez has never played the hot corner in his pro career and Bryant has only three innings under his belt in left.