Infielder Javier Baez will not be on the Chicago Cubs’ active roster as they start off the 2016 season due to a left thumb injury, Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago is reporting.
Baez, who injured his thumb about a week and a half ago, suffered a contusion on that very thumb to land him on the disabled list. The hope is that Baez will be ready for the Cubs’ home opener on April 11th versus the Reds.
The-23-year-old Baez spent most of the 2015 season at the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in the Minor Leagues. He batted .324/.385/.527 with 13 home runs and 62 runs batted in. In 80 plate appearances for the Cubs in 2015, Baez slashed .289/.325/.408 with a homer and 4 RBI’s.
Entering the 2014 season, most websites had Baez a consensus top-ten prospect. He made his Major League debut for the Cubs on August 5th versus the Colorado Rockies in-which he went 1-for-6 with a home run.
That blast will ultimately give the Cubs the 6-5 win on that day. While Baez is averaging 20 home runs per a full 162 game season, his batting stats are terrible. He is a career .201/.252./346 hitter, but the Cubs still have faith that Baez will turn it around. Baez was part of the reason the team decided to trade Starin Castro.
When Baez comes off the DL there is still no clear place for him on the Cubs. If we go over Chicago’s infield, it’s Anthony Rizzo at first, Ben Zobrist at second, Addison Russell at shortstop, and Kris Bryant at third. The Cubs are getting Baez some work in the outfield, but he still won’t start or be ahead of guys like Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler, and Jason Heyward.
Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have Baez slashing .248/.301/.443 with 22 home runs and 71 runs batted in to go with 18 steals over 574 plate appearances. Once he comes back healthy, the Cubs will have to find away to get Baez some swings at the plate.
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