When Keith Law of ESPN released his annual top-100 minor leaguers this week, he pencilled in Cubs shortstop prospect Javier Baez in the number 31 spot. While this seems like a wonderful thing, the team's cornerstone player, Starlin Castro, already occupies that position. Although it could be cause for some concern, as one of the two players may need to move to another spot in the field at some point, general manager Theo Epstein does not see any problem with having two of the best young shortstops in baseball.
"That's the problem you want to have. Give me nine shortstops. If you give me nine shortstops we'll field a team," Epstein said on Tuesday while speaking on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "Gary Sheffield came up as a shortstop He stayed there for awhile and then he went to third base and then left field and right field."
Although Castro was involved in some rumors this offseason regarding a trade with the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton, he will be the key piece for the Cubs to return to the postseason in the next few seasons. Castro, 23, signed a four year, $60 million contract extension last season, in which he was selected to his second consecutive All-Star game. Much of the trade talks involving Castro centered around the idea of having Baez as an insurance.
Baez, 20, may be one of the top prospects in the game, but he still has some work to do before making it to the big leagues after batting .188 with the High-A Daytona Cubs after posting a .294 average in Low-A Daytona.
It's reasonable to assume that the Cubs will toy with the idea of moving one of the two shortstops to third base, as Ian Stewart seems to be more of plug in than a permanent replacement. If Baez comes along as most members of the organization expect him to, and if he is moved to third, he could be joined in the infield by Castro, Darwin Barney, and Anthony Rizzo.
In a few years, it could be hard to find a better infield than that.
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