Chicago Cubs: Thoughts on every player on the 40-man roster

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 04: Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy #68 of the Chicago Cubs visits the mound to talk with Kyle Hendricks #28 and Willson Contreras #40 during the fifth inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on September 04, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 04: Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy #68 of the Chicago Cubs visits the mound to talk with Kyle Hendricks #28 and Willson Contreras #40 during the fifth inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on September 04, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 05: Jason Heyward #22 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on September 05, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 05: Jason Heyward #22 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on September 05, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The outfielders (10):

Alexander Canario – LF/CF/RF

2021 stats (in Giants and Cubs systems): 456 PA, 107 G, 18 HR, .230/.300/.431

FGDC projections: N/A

Still just 21-years old, Alexander Canario joined the Cubs organization in the Kris Bryant trade at last year’s deadline. While he is still very raw and will not see any major league time for the next two years or so, Canario has considerable thump in his bat as well as speed on the base paths, hitting 18 home runs and stealing 21 bases last season. His strikeout numbers are higher than one would like to see them at but he is a powerful, speedy, versatile defender who Cubs fans should be excited about moving forward. Canario recently ranked as high as the #12 prospect in the Cubs system per MLB.com.

Greg Deichmann – LF/RF

2021 stats: 31 PA, 14 G, 0 HR, .133/.161/.133, -22 wRC+, -0.4 fWAR

2022 FGDC projections: N/A

Greg Deichmann, a 26-year-old corner outfielder, joined the Cubs last season in the Andrew Chafin trade with Oakland. Deichmann made his major league debut with Chicago shortly after but he performed horribly in a brief 14-game cameo. He is not predicated by FGDC to even sniff the major leagues this season and as a minor leaguer who’s already pushing 27, his days in a Cubs uniform may be numbered.

Clint Frazier – LF/RF

2021 stats (with the Yankees): 218 PA, 66 G, 5 HR, .186/.317/.317, 83 wRC+, -0.9 fWAR

2022 FGDC projections: 399 PA, 92 G, 14 HR, .234/.322/.422, 100 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR

Clint Frazier‘s Yankees career ultimately ended up as an utter disappointment, leading to his release and eventually; signing with the Cubs. The 27-year-old corner outfielder may still have some untapped potential that Chicago will undoubtedly look to uncover. He has some pop in his bat and could hit 20 home runs if he is able to put all of his tools together. Frazier is widely expected to be the designated hitter for the Cubs in 2022 due to his subpar defense.

Ian Happ – LF/CF/RF/INF

2021 stats: 535 PA, 148 G, 25 HR, .226/.323/.434, 103 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR

2022 FGDC projections: 651 PA, 151 G, 31 HR, .240/.340/.457, 113 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR

Ian Happ has quietly been a solid contributor for this Cubs team since his debut in 2017. Happ is a switch-hitter and is capable of playing all three outfield spots well in addition to being able to fill in at first, second or third base. Happ hit a career-high 25 home runs last season while posting his fifth consecutive season of over 100 wRC+ and 1.3 fWAR. The 27-year old outfielder is considered one of the leaders of this Cubs team and could find himself on the move this year as well.

Michael Hermosillo – LF/CF/RF

2021 stats: 38 PA, 16 G, 3 HR, .194/.237/.500, 90 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR

2022 FGDC projections: 175 PA, 41 G, 7 HR, .231/.314/.422, 97 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR

Yes, Michael Hermosillo‘s output at the major league level last season was awful in pretty much every way. But it’s his astounding minor league performance that pushed the Cubs to re-sign him to a big league contract early in the offseason. The 27-year-old outfielder hit 10 home runs in just 43 minor league games, posting a .592 SLG% and 178 wRC+ over 186 plate appearances. He is capable of double-digit home run totals and can play all three outfield spots. He should be an oft-used backup outfielder for the Cubs.

Jason Heyward – RF

2021 stats: 353 PA, 104 G, 8 HR, .214/.280/.347, 68 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR

2022 FGDC projections: 420 PA, 97 G, 12 HR, .244/.323/.397, 93 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR

Jason Heyward, now 32-years of age, has never quite lived up to the early-career hype he had as a member of the Atlanta Braves. A member of the Cubs organization for the past six seasons, Heyward posted the worst season of his entire career last season and may officially have played his way out of a full-time outfield gig going forward. With a weak bat against both lefties and righties, Heyward’s defense may not be enough to carry him to an everyday role in the near future.

Christopher Morel – LF/CF/RF/INF

2021 stats (in AA and AAA): 456 PA, 110 G, 18 HR, .223/.303/.427

2022 FGDC projections: N/A

22-year-old Christopher Morel, much like Alexander Canario is still a year or two away from the majors. Primarily a middle infielder in the first few years of his professional career, Morel became a super-utility player for the Cubs last season and looked great in his first showing in the outfield, highlighted by his 1.000 fielding percentage in 277 innings in center. Don’t let his 145lb. frame fool you, his bat possesses a significant amount of pop and he is highly efficient on the bases as well.

Rafael Ortega – LF/CF/RF

2021 stats: 330 PA, 103 G, 11 HR, .291/.360/.463, 120 wRC+, 1.6 fWAR

2022 FGDC projections: 497 PA, 115 G, .250/.321/.405, 95 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR

Rafael Ortega, 30, finally received his first full season in the big leagues nine years after making his debut back in 2012. He capitalized on his 103-game showing, hitting 11 home runs and posting a .291 batting average while primarily manning center field. Going forward, FanGraphs has him projected to be the club’s everyday center fielder in 2022.

Harold Ramirez – LF/CF/RF

2021 stats: 361 PA, 99 G, 7 HR, .268/.305/.398, 90 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

2022 FGDC projections: 217 PA, 50 G, 6 HR, .278/.318/.431, 99 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR

Harold Ramirez, like Michael Hermosillo, will function as an oft-used backup outfielder in the upcoming season. Ramirez has bounced around a bit in the past few seasons, spending time in the Marlins, Indians and now Cubs outfields. His hit-tool is probably his best attribute as he is not a consistent power hitter and isn’t great on the basepaths. Should an injury come up in the upcoming season, Hermosillo is more likely to get the call to the starting lineup than Ramirez is. Unfortunately for the Cubs, both players are out of minor league options, meaning they have to stick on the major league roster or get cut.

Nelson Velazquez – LF/CF/RF

2021 stats (in A+ and AA): 425 PA, 103 G, 20 HR, .270/.333/.496

2022 FGDC projections: 70 PA, 16 G, 3 HR, .239/.283/.420, 84 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

Nelson Velazquez, 23, may be the closest outfield prospect to the big leagues that the Cubs have. While he didn’t crack AAA last season, Velazquez was ranked the #29 prospect in the system per MLB.com and showed exceptional home run power while also stealing 17 bases and playing all three outfield spots last year. Velazquez’s long-term defensive home will most likely be in one of the corners but his pop and hit-tool will make him an interesting piece to watch for the Cubbies.

Next. Recent minor-league signings around the league. dark

The Chicago Cubs are firmly back in rebuild-mode, just six years after winning a World Series championship. With Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, Schwarber, and Pederson all shipped out of town, Ian Happ, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Hendricks may be next.