With the talent-rich Cubs minor league system close to churning out players for the major league team, prospects such as shortstop Javier Baez, third baseman Kris Bryant and centerfielder Albert Almora are getting close to taking the job of a current roster veteran.
While Bryant and Almora may not reach Chicago until late 2015, Baez is expected to make his Cubs debut at some point this summer after opening the 2014 campaign at Class AAA Iowa. With Starlin Castro already firmly in place at shortstop and signed to a long-term contract, the question is what will the Cubs do with Baez when he is called up to the major leagues?
Baez did see some time at second base this spring to help prepare him for a potential move to a new position and many around baseball expected him to play a lot at second when Iowa’s season begins. However, Cubs manager Ricky Renteria says that Baez will remain at his natural position.
“I think he’s made a lot of progress … one of the things we talked about to make sure he understands is … to continue to work on his defense, to continue to go down there and put together some good at-bats, try to get on base a little bit more, and just go out there and be a professional — hustling, busting his rear end," Renteria said. "He’s looked good in spring training. We’re sending him down to play shortstop. That’s what we told him."
So with Baez at shortstop in the minor leagues and showing the makings of a potential superstar and Castro in Chicago playing the same position, what happens when both players are together in the Windy City?
Castro says that there will be no problem fitting both players into the lineup.
"You know it's going to be good," Castro said. "No matter what, it's going to be good to have him out there. The people that can hit, you find a position for them. I don't care that I'm a shortstop and he's a shortstop. I don't care because I have a good relationship with him. We talk a lot throughout the year and here in spring training and I tell Javy to 'keep working hard and you'll be here no matter what.'"
So what if Renteria comes to Castro and tells him he would like to play Baez at shortstop and that Castro needs to change positions? The two-time All-Star says he is on board with whatever helps the Chicago Cubs win games.
"Yes, whatever it takes," Castro said. "If I need to move positions, I'm OK with that. If he is on our team and him being there helps the team win, then I am fine with that. I just want our team to win. That's it."