I’ve seen a few mixed emotions around Cubs Nation. Yes, it stinks knowing that Dexter Fowler will not be back with the Cubs. He’s as likable as they come on a team full of likable characters. Fowler fits the Cubs lineup better than perhaps anyone not named Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo. But, the downside to having a bunch of good players is that sooner or later they will need to get paid. This is maybe his only chance to really cash in. And, he deserves every penny.
Everyone says how this is a business. Theo gets paid what he does and is successful as he is because sometimes you have to know when to let go. Dexter Fowler will be a Cub for life but financially it’s the right move to find a younger, cheaper centerfielder.
Enter Albert Almora. He was Theo’s first, first-round pick running the Cubs. I’m not sure anyone really knows what he can do in the show. He’s shown flashes of brilliance both in the minors and with the Cubs. However, the Cubs are in the beginning stages of dynasty mode. We know Almora can play a great centerfield and we know how much Joe Maddon values defense. But, will Almora be able to hit enough, consistently enough to be the everyday centerfielder Theo and Jed drafted him to be.
No one knows yet so Theo hedged his bet with a veteran guy like Jon Jay. Jon will not make you forget Fowler. In fact, this year we will see a centerfield by committee type approach more than anyone getting the consistent AB like Fowler did. However, Jon Jay is, for a lack of a better term, just a good baseball player. Jay won’t hit for much power but he is steady at the plate hitting .287/.352/.382. He won’t wow you with his range or arm but he will make the necessary plays but he’ll play a steady CF.
Jon Jay owns career .996 fielding percentage in center field, highest mark for any active player (minimum 500 games) at position.#Cubs
— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) November 29, 2016
The Cubs are far from done molding the roster but think about the guys that will get at-bats in the outfield at some point this season, Jay, Almora, Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and maybe even Jorge Soler (he’s probably getting traded). Best case Jay takes over the Chris Coghlan role on the team and is a solid bat off the bench with the occasional start in the OF. Worst case, Albert Almora struggles to find his footing and Jay with his career .352 OBP bridges the gap for a year.
Either way another tip of the cap to Theo & Jed.
Featured Photo: Scott Rovak / USA TODAY Sports
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