All the Cubs plans going forward in respect to free agents, position changes, and future stars hinge on one person… Mike Olt.
(Note: It has been said numerous times Starlin Castro will not be moved from SS because of the vested time there. He will play there or be traded)
I know what you are saying. What do you mean Mike Olt and how does he effect anything? Well Mike Olt right now is the closest prospect the Cubs have to the major leagues at a position the Cubs could use some upgrading. There are also at least 3 other top infield prospects below him in the minor leagues which complicate things in the near future but not now. Mike Olt has to prove this Spring Training that his bat can live up to his defense at 3rd base. The reason is because his success or failures determine how the new future roster is constructed.
For example if Mike Olt during Spring Training is killing the ball, playing great defense (which we know he already plays ML caliber D at 3rd), and is named the starting 3rd baseman for the 2014 Cubs then you can move Javier Baez to 2nd or leave at SS, move Kris Bryant to the outfield (where I think he will end up anyways), and Arismendy Alacantra then can see time all around the diamond as a possible utility player or trade bait. Sure the Cubs front office is already ahead of the game and will have Baez, Bryant, and other top prospects play different positions in AFL and winter ball. Having said that there is a huge difference in playing a variety of position in fall/winter ball and putting together a year at a different position during the 2014 season. Having Olt make his mark in the major leagues and stabilizing it throughout 2014 is going to determine these other prospects positional fate.
For another example let’s say Olt does not produce or get things together and remains in Iowa. First it could dampen expectations for him and cause more position uncertainty for another year with the current crop of prospects. If he never gets it together then there is obviously more options for players to move around the diamond. You could see Javier Baez move from SS to 2nd or 3rd base in this example. You could also see Kris Bryant man 3rd or still move to the OF. As for Arismendy Alacantara he may end up the starting 2nd baseman if Baez moves to 3rdand Bryant moves to the outfield. See what I mean about a lot of uncertainty if Olt does not live up or near expectations. Once again proof that Mike Olt overall productions and path can either cause stability or craziness in the positions of the Chicago Cubs future prospects.
Of course my prediction on this could be way off and a thing like a Javier Baez or Starlin Castro trade could change the direction of this post completely. But I have to believe that the current path the Cubs front office is going Mike Olt holds the key to a lot of things becoming more clear or a lot foggier. Having said all this I believe Mike Olt will be the Chicago Cubs starting 3rd baseman next season and produce like the front office think he will after trading for him. I will even go one step further and say the future lineup in either 2015/2016 will look like this.
1. Starlin Castro SS
2. Anthony Rizzo 1st
3. Javier Baez 2b
4. Kris Bryant LF
5. Jorge Soler RF
6. Albert Almora CF
7. Mike Olt 3B
8. Welington Castillo C
Yes I believe so much in the front office and talent evaluators that 5 of the Cubs top prospect this year will be starting in the 2015/2016 season. Not all will be All-starts but right now I believe all will be starters.
Until Next Time….