Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein spoke with the “Waddle and Silvy Show” on Tuesday morning as we inch closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training next week. Epstein spent a majority of the interview speaking about an issue that has been on the minds of many Cubs fans. That issue is that the Cubs have two impact position players that play the shortstop position. There is no question that shortstop Starlin Castro will play a vital role in the Cubs’ long-term success. Castro signed a 7 year, $60 million contract extension with the Cubs last summer. Beyond Castro, the top prospect in the Cubs’ farm system is Javier Baez, who was drafted as a shortstop in 2011 with the 9th overall selection in the first-year player draft. Epstein does not view the fact that Castro and Baez both play shortstop as a problem.
“That’s the problem you want to have. Give me nine shortstops. If you give me nine shortstops we’ll field a team,” Epstein said Tuesday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN Chicago 1000. “You look throughout baseball history, the great players are the ones who come up in the middle of the field and then move to a corner or move further along on the defensive spectrum. Gary Sheffield came up as a shortstop. He stayed there for awhile and then he went to third base and then left field and right field. That’s typical. ESPN Chicago
Ever since Castro debuted for the Cubs in 2010, there has been speculation as to whether or not the Cubs would eventually move the talented shortstop to another position on the field. A position change to second base and third base have been suggested, though, every indication given from the Cubs’ front office is that Castro will be the long-term shortstop for the Cubs. What does that mean for Baez?
“…Javier Baez will continue to develop as a shortstop,” Epstein said. “If he pushes the timetable, and he’s up here sooner than one might expect then sure, before he gets to a position and a point where he’s ready to make his major league debut then it’s our job to develop him as a versatile player who can make an impact on a Cubs team that has an everyday shortstop.” ESPN Chicago
Epstein is not the type to show his hand, however, those comments would seem to confirm the notion that a position change is likely in Baez’s future. If Baez pushes the envelope and ascends to the Major League level sooner than originally thought, Epstein indicated they would have to develop Baez in a way that he can have an impact on a Cubs team that presumably has Castro at shortstop. That likely would mean a position change to either third base or a corner outfield position.
Cubs fans will be able to get an extended look at Baez during Spring Training, who will be participate in Major League camp as a non-roster invitee.