Chicago Cubs: The race is on for the center field nod

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 04: Ian Happ #8, Albert Almora Jr. #5, and Jason Heyward #22 of the Chicago Cubs celebrate the 7-2 win Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on August 04, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 04: Ian Happ #8, Albert Almora Jr. #5, and Jason Heyward #22 of the Chicago Cubs celebrate the 7-2 win Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on August 04, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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An alternate possibility out of right field

Steven Souza Jr. could factor into Chicago’s center field decision. The 30-year-old signed a one-year/$1 million contract with the Cubs this offseason. He’s not a household name, though he did hit 30 home runs for the Tampa Bay Rays just two seasons ago.

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If by chance Souza Jr. puts forth a solid spring, he could work his way into the opening day lineup in right field and push Jason Heyward to center. Souza Jr. is 6-for-14 this spring with two doubles and two RBI.

There isn’t much momentum to the thought, as the Cubs would rather lean on their younger homegrown players. But they are a team that needs to win now, and they’ll do what’s necessary to ensure that happens.

Heyward is one of the top defensive right fielders in MLB, but the Cubs have had no problem shifting him to center field when needed. He played 84 games there in 2019.

A lot can change over the next few weeks leading to the regular season. A lot can change over the next seven months leading to the postseason. As of now, the fight for CF is between Ian Happ and Albert Almora. I predict Happ to roam center field on opening day.

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I think the Chicago Cubs see more in him and are going to give him more string than Almora to begin the year.