Cubs seeking leadoff man for 2018

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 06:23:47 AM. The Cubs current options at the leadoff spot are slim, but here are some possibilities for 2018.

Who will lead off for the next year?

It’s anyone’s guess with three months to go until .

The Cubs had three players with 150 or more plate appearances in the leadoff spot in 2018, but none was particularly effective.

Of the 49 major-league players who fit that category, ranked 27th with a .330 on-base percentage from the top spot, while was 31st at .325 and 37th at .312.

The Cubs definitely missed , who fled to the Cardinals in 2017 for more money. But it should be noted that Fowler ranked 39th with a .308 OBP in the leadoff spot and eventually was moved down in the order for , who led the majors with a .418 OPB batting first.

General manager Jed Hoyer said at the GM meetings there’s not one leadoff man “clearly on the roster,” which means the Cubs will probably have to go outside the organization.

Here are five options they can consider as they prepare to build the 2018 roster.

Re-sign Jay

While he’s not the perfect leadoff man, Jay was a valuable asset in 2017 and worth the one-year investment. If Jay doesn’t get a multiyear deal as a free agent, the Cubs certainly could bring him back on a one-year deal in the same basic role and make him a part-time leadoff man.

Acquire

This is a long shot, though the Marlins are looking to shed payroll, and Gordon is one of their veterans expected to be on the trading block. He scored 114 runs last season, including 108 from the leadoff spot, third most in the majors. He also stole 60 bases, including 57 from the top spot, second to ’s 59.

There could be a decent market for Gordon, who’s due $10.5 million, $13 million and $13.5 million over the next three seasons, with a $14 million team option in 2021. Of course, he has a PED suspension on his resume, which could scare off some teams.

If the Cubs were to acquire Gordon to play second base, they’d probably have to trade or to open up second base. Baez obviously would move to short if Russell were dealt.

Acquire Kevin Kiermaier

The center fielder is a winner and perhaps the best defensive outfielder in the game. He hit .304 from the top spot in 37 games in 2017, though he missed two months with a hairline fracture in his hip.

The Cubs likely would have to include one of their regulars from the core — Baez, Russell or Schwarber — to make a deal work. Manger Joe Maddon is high on Kiermaier — and for good reason — as are Cubs executives who know his older brother, Dan, a groundskeeper at Wrigley Field. A family reunion makes sense if the Cubs are willing to pay the price.

Sign

The veteran center fielder is a free agent and could be available at a relatively low cost, like Jay last winter. He had a .383 OBP in 2016 with the but regressed to .318 last season. Maybin was dealt to the Angels last winter, waived in August and picked up by the Astros, where he won a ring. It would be a low-risk move that could pay dividends, as Jay did.

Try

The Cubs catcher made two appearances in the leadoff spot in 2017, going 3-for-8 with one walk. He had a .407 OBP in the second half and was one of the team’s most productive hitters all season. Contreras is not a traditional leadoff hitter, though he definitely provides some energy and posted a .466 OBP and 1.166 OPS leading off innings. The risk is that if Contreras struggles leading off, as Schwarber did, the Cubs would be criticized for making another unconventional move that could backfire.

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