Chicago Cubs outfielders Albert Almora and Jon Jay will both spend time patrolling center field this season, because as we know, Dexter Fowler signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason. Fowler was one of the most productive players offensively and defensively for the Cubs last season. Will these two produce enough to fill the void of the absent Fowler?
When Jon Jay signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Chicago Cubs in the offseason, one of the things he voiced was that he was excited to mentor Albert Almora.
“The big thing that appealed to me was that Albert Almora is there. A young stud that’s a great center fielder,” Jay told MLB.com. “[I want to] help him out any way I can. I was lucky enough to have Carlos Beltran kind of mentor me in my years in St. Louis, and I’m looking forward to doing that with Albert.”
Combination of rookie and veteran – will it work?
Jon Jay is 32 years old, and could be on his last legs in the big leagues. The Miami native is still a productive player, but one big reason they brought him over to Chicago is to show the ropes to Almora Jr.
Almora Jr, a former first-round pick who got his first taste of the majors in 2016, has all the tools to be a great major leaguer. It’s just a matter of getting experience in the big leagues. He made his major league debut in June of last year, hitting .277 through 47 games. He showed some pop, with nine doubles and three homers in that span. Again, he is only 22 years old. Very, very young. But the tools are present.
The young Florida native has the speed, the bat, the arm, the glove. The one thing that will keep him at the big league level throughout the season is the consistency at the plate. The Cubs front office has voiced this spring they want to see more power from him.
For Jay, it’s a lot of the same he’s done his entire career. Hit for a decent average, lots of singles, keep it simple at the plate. Jay has only hit 31 home runs in seven seasons in the big leagues. Regardless, he’s a lifetime .287 hitter.
The thing with Jay that impresses me is the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field. Sure, he doesn’t have a ton of power, but he puts the ball in play and gets base hits. Productive player to bring on board if you ask me.
With the combination of the young talent that Almora brings to the table, and the experience of Jon Jay, I 100 percent believe it will fill the absence of Dexter Fowler.
All about reps for Almora Jr
With all the young guns on the Cubs, it took them time to get their feet wet in the big leagues. It will be the same for Almora Jr. For example, look at Javier Baez. When he first came up to the big leagues, it took time for him to really get settled and find his footing. Baez showed a ton of power right out of the gate, but struck out – a lot.
I’m not saying Almora Jr is going to struggle this year. But the 22-year-old hasn’t even had a full season at the major league level. More reps and experience will do nothing but help. From the looks of what he showed last year in 47 games, I believe Albert Almora will do just fine.
A solid center field combo
Between the two, the Cubs have a strong foundation in center field. Both guys are productive offensively, and play solid defense. I really do believe the acquisition of Jon Jay will play a vital role in evolving Almora Jr. into the best possible player, because he has an experienced major league outfielder at his side whenever he needs advice.
You were great Dexter Fowler, but the Cubs will be just fine without you in 2017.