Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

ryan kalish red soxOutfield hopeful Ryan Kalish has been a fun story to follow all Spring, and today’s roster shuffling would seem to make it all the more likely that he (together with Mike Olt) could really make the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.

And he’s getting some love from President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, the man who was GM of the Red Sox when Kalish was one of the next big things.

Although Epstein wouldn’t spill the roster beans to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, he did tell Cafardo via text that, “[e]ither way he looks great. Brings a lot to the table and is on our long-term plans.”

Kalish turns 26 in a couple days, so the “in our long-term plans” is a very legitimate point, regardless of whether Kalish is on the 25-man roster on March 31. As an up-and-comer before multiple injuries derailed his career a few years ago, the Cubs have the luxury – if they need it – of sending Kalish to Iowa for a couple months, letting him get his feet further under him (he had a serious neck procedure done last August, and didn’t play at all in 2013).

That all said, it remains possible that Kalish will make the Opening Day roster, and play his way into the outfield rotation. On the Spring, Kalish is hitting .275/.370/.300 with six steals (1 CS). That’s fairly representative of what he has done in the past, but perhaps with a little more SLG (he doesn’t have homer power, but his speed gives him plenty of doubles power). He can play all over the outfield, and could become a table-setter.

We’ll see how the Cubs’ outfield picture shakes out. With Emilio Bonifacio on the team – and needing regular starts while rotating among many positions – it’s possible the Cubs won’t carry a traditional fourth outfielder. But if someone like Nate Schierholtz or Ryan Sweeney or Justin Ruggiano is eventually traded (or if there’s an injury), plenty of time for Kalish could open up quickly.

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