I want to be quite clear up front that there is not yet any indication that Javier Baez will see time in the outfield this or next year. That said, we do know that the Chicago Cubs love versatility. We do know that the Cubs may soon have more starting-caliber infielders than they infield spots. And we do know that next year’s outfield is less set than the infield.
Against that backdrop, Tommy Birch saw Baez taking fly balls at Iowa this week during batting practice, and asked about the possibility of Baez seeing time in the outfield (Des Moines Register). Baez, himself, said that he’s not only open to the idea, he talked to his manager about it back when he started playing some third base (before his finger injury). He played in the outfield in his younger, pre-professional days, but there are currently no plans yet for him to see time in the outfield this year at Iowa. Mostly, Baez is just open to whatever he can do to contribute.
Birch’s article is a good read on Baez, generally, so give it a look.
Baez is such a great athlete and has such a naturally good baseball sense about him that it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that he could basically step into any position on the field and play better-than-average defense. As we talk about versatile/super utility-type players positively impacting the Cubs now and in the future, Baez isn’t necessarily the first guy you think of … but it’s interesting to consider, nonetheless.
Although Baez will likely remain at Iowa through August, before joining the big league club for September, he could still be a meaningful contributor down the stretch. Then, as the Cubs head into the offseason, it’s going to be a very interesting time to consider options, which could conceivably include so many positions and rotations for guys like Baez, Starlin Castro, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Chris Coghlan, and more. If Baez were able to add outfield defense to his tool bag, it just makes things more interesting.
Then again, he’s got the potential to be so good defensively at second base that the idea of pairing him up the middle with Addison Russell, at least defensively, is pretty compelling.