If you had Nate Schierholtz in the office pool for who will be the Cubs’ starting right fielder to begin the 2013 season, then you must be a habitual liar as no one would have made such a prediction at the beginning of the off-season.
Perhaps, the only two people that could have predicted that Schierholtz would be the Cubs’ starting right fielder in 2013 are President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer. On Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs and Scheirholtz agreed to a one year deal worth $2.25 million. Before we go into detail about the Schierholtz, lets remember that Epstein and Hoyer are perhaps two of the smartest individuals in all of Chicago. Last season the Cubs were in need of an outfielder, and Epstein and Hoyer struck success in their signing of veteran outfielder David DeJesus.
DeJesus will now serve as the Cubs’ starting outfielder, while Schierholtz serves as the Cubs’ starting right fielder. Schierholtz finished the 2012 season with the Philadelphia Phillies after starting the season with the San Francisco Giants. Schierholtz collected a total of 241 at bats during the 2012 season, posting a slash line of .257/.321/.407/.728. For his career, Schierholtz is hitting .270/.319/.409/.728.
The good news on Schierholtz is that the outfielder is only 28 years and is entering what is believed to be the prime seasons for a baseball player. In addition, Schierholtz was once a top prospect in the Giants’ farm system with the potential of being a 30-home run player in the Major Leagues. The problem is that Schierholtz has yet to show that potential during his five year career in Major League Baseball. Though, Schierholtz does fit the criteria of the players that Epstein and Hoyer are in search of. Schierholtz possess good base running skills, a low strikeout percentage, and is an average defender.
2013 will be an audition year for Schierholtz, which is why this signing makes sense for the Cubs. The New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, and Baltimore Orioles all expressed interest in Schierholtz before the outfielder signed with the Cubs. If Schierholtz has a productive first half of the season for the Cubs, then he could easily be a trading chip for the Cubs’ front office. Though if the Cubs determine that Schierholtz is a player that fits with the direction of the team–as a starter or as a reserve player–then the front office through means of arbitration will have control over the outfielder for the 2014 season.