Chicago Cubs: Five Possible Options At Third Base In 2013
Third Base: The Black Hole of the Chicago Cubs
For the Chicago Cubs in 2012, the hot corner was a complete black hole. One of many spots that need to be improved over the course of the winter, third base was nothing short of a disaster for the Cubs this past season.
After letting Aramis Ramirez walk in free agency in the winter of 2011-2012, the Cubs replaced him with Ian Stewart. Many hoped that buying low on Stewart would pay off and the change of scenery would benefit him. That didn’t really happen. In fact, that never had that opportunity to happen because of his health.
Early in the season, Stewart had surgery on the wrist injury that plagued him throughout the spring. It was long overdue. But it left the Cubs with an even larger hole than his poor performance had created in those first couple of months.
The remainder of the year saw a revolving door at the spot. Occupying the most time there was Luis Valbuena. He was serviceable, and brought a good glove to the spot, but virtually no bat, save for a couple of hot streaks.
Josh Vitters saw some time up with the big club, but didn’t show much of anything. He’s bound for Triple A to at least start the season, and may have seen the last of his time with the Cubs.
In the long term, the Cubs are sitting pretty. Names like Junior Lake and Javier Baez have potential to take over the spot, but both are still a ways away. They’ll be looking for someone to occupy that spot for at least the short term. But who could it be?
5. Ian Stewart
Even before he was lost for the season, Ian Stewart was struggling both at the plate and in the field. As of right now, he's a prime non-tender candidate. However, the Cubs could consider the fact that his injured wrist hampered his performance in 2012 and give him another shot.
4. Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds is an interesting case. He's not a free agent yet, but he could be non-tendered. If he is, expect the Cubs to be in on him, at least to some degree. He strikes out a TON, obviously, but he brings some pop to the lineup and can play both corner infield spots. He could post big time power numbers at Wrigley, which would especially be key if they were to trade Alfonso Soriano.
3. Placido Polanco
At 37, Placido Polanco is closing in on the end of his career. But he's still a very strong defender, wherever you put him. His bat isn't too great at this point, but anything is better than what the Cubs had there last year. If they want a solution for the short term, Polanco could be the answer, but would he want to sign there, or with a contender?
2. Ryan Roberts
On most teams, Ryan Roberts probably isn't a starter. But on the Cubs, he probably would be. He's versatile, and can play most of the infield positions, but has been spending a good chunk of his time at third base. If he's non-tendered, he could be a cheap option for the Cubs to throw out there. He has a bit of pop in his bat and is a solid defender. He'd be a nice addition to the clubhouse, and would probably quickly become a fan favorite.
1. Luis Valbuena
Let's face it. At the end of the day, the Cubs don't want to spend money, already openly throwing away another season. Dale Sveum loves Luis Valbuena, and he at least brings a good glove to the spot. It won't be pretty on the stat sheet, but I completely expect Valbuena to be the Cubs' Opening Day third baseman in 2013.
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