Despite the huge offseason the Chicago Cubs have had, the club has yet to add another true centerfielder as it set out to do with Dexter Fowler hitting free agency.
Jason Heyward has some experience playing in center and it has been speculated that he could be looked to for playing the position, however, his strongest position is manning right field. In his career, Heyward has started 751 games in right with just 30 starts coming in center.
With the additions of numerous players this offseason, the Cubs may not have many options in free agency or trade for centerfield, but could get creative in moving Javier Baez to the outfield.
Baez, who is currently slated to be behind Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell in the infield, has been spending time in center field playing winter ball in the Caribbean Winter League, with the hopes of improving his versatility. He has been linked as a trade chip on many occasions, but for the Cubs, it may be best to retain him.
According to an earlier interview with ESPN.com, the Cubs could be reluctant to give Baez a full-time starting role in the outfield, despite him likely being able to handle the load. The reason? He's too good of an infielder.
“There's no doubt he could do it, but he's so good in the infield,” Maddon told Jesse Rogers of ESPN. “It's rare to find someone that fields the baseball as well as he does. … Game in progress, I think he can do it. You really want to start him on the dirt if you get the chance though.”
At the very least, Baez will be looked to be a super utility player as he is gaining experience at new positions. With centerfield typically being a leadoff position in the lineup, Baez's power bat will change some of the Cubs' plans offensively, but with other options, the team could think outside the box.
While the Cubs have not added one of their main offseason goals with center, the team should be able to manage just fine in attempting to improve from a lofty 97-win season.