Cubs

Cubs could change the equation with Kris Bryant in left field

kris-bryant-0602.png

Cubs could change the equation with Kris Bryant in left field

MIAMI — The Cubs insisted moving Kris Bryant to left field shouldn’t be interpreted as a precursor move that sets the stage for a huge shakeup.

But feel free to imagine all the possibilities, the wide-ranging effects if Bryant does shift from third base, what it means in 2015 and beyond.

Manager Joe Maddon wouldn’t go there before Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Miami Marlins. But it’s a good thing Bryant packed his outfield glove.

“I almost didn’t bring it this road trip,” Bryant said at Marlins Park. “I haven’t played there in awhile, but I’m excited for it.”

[MORE CUBS: Starlin Castro doesn't worry about the critics]

The Cubs could promote Javier Baez from Triple-A Iowa to strengthen their shaky infield defense and see if his Gary Sheffield bat speed still plays after trying to channel some of that aggressiveness and cut down on all those strikeouts.

The Cubs would also have to figure out what to do with All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro and 21-year-old second baseman Addison Russell.

Does putting Bryant in left field somehow signal the Cubs are convinced elite prospect Kyle Schwarber can be the long-term answer at catcher?

How will all these moving pieces influence the front office’s thinking leading up to the July 31 trade deadline?

[MORE CUBS: Cubs hope ankle injury doesn't force Jorge Soler onto DL]

The Cubs are 27-23 and will be looking to add, but Maddon downplayed the Bryant position switch, rattling off all the factors that went into the decision.

Jorge Soler could be placed on the disabled list with an ankle injury, and that would definitely change the outfield mix, probably creating an opportunity for Junior Lake in right. Maddon also didn’t like the matchup of Chris Coghlan against Marlins lefty Brad Hand and wanted to give utility guy Jonathan Herrera some playing time at third base.

“Honestly, it’s just based on today,” Maddon said. “I just chose to do this. Purely, that’s it.”

But the Cubs are always thinking about tomorrow and what’s coming next. Bryant has some outfield experience, playing center and right at the University of San Diego and getting exposed to left in spring training.

[SHOP CUBS: Get a Kris Bryant right here]

Coghlan’s hitting only .229, but he’s definitely contributing with seven homers, a .739 OPS and five outfield assists, which was tied for second in the National League. It’s also fair to wonder if Bryant would be a defensive upgrade in left field.

Bryant is a team guy who doesn’t seem to care how the dominoes might fall, willing to move wherever, and that’s another factor the Cubs will consider.

“I’m prepared for anything,” Bryant said. “I played all over the field growing up. I think that’s important to have that versatility.

“I’ve said it before: It’s a kid’s game. So (when) you’re a kid playing this game, you play all over the field. That’s what I do. I’m a ballplayer. I’m ready for anything.”

Willson Contreras commissions heart-warming painting commemorating his relationship with Joe Maddon

usatsi_12702918.jpg
USA Today

Willson Contreras commissions heart-warming painting commemorating his relationship with Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon’s time with the Cubs may be over, but the memories made in his five years on the North Side will live on in Chicago sports lore forever. No matter how frustratingly his tenure may have ended, the outpouring of support and appreciation from management, fans and players alike throughout the process of Maddon’s departure are evidence of that.

“I love him like a dad,” Anthony Rizzo said

“I personally never could have imagined having such a wonderful partner,” Theo Epstein later added, standing beside Maddon as they delivered joint reflections on the end of the era.

Maddon touched the lives of so many within the organization and without in his time with the Cubs, but not many more so than catcher Willson Contreras, who burst onto the scene as one of the best young sluggers in baseball under Maddon’s guidance. Maddon — a catcher himself in his short time as a player — never shied away from criticizing Contreras in times he thought it earned, but it’s clear that the two forged a real bond over the last four years. 

Sunday afternoon, artist Austin Ploch revealed that Contreras reached out to him shortly after the end of the 2019 season to commission this heart-warming piece, commemorating the mutual respect and adoration between mentor and pupil:

The painting is derived from a photo of the two that Contreras posted to his Instagram account after it was officially announced that Maddon would not return as the Cubs manager:

Ploch has commissioned work for Contreras before, but now Willson will have a tangible memento to remember his first manager (along with his 2016 World Series ring). We’re not crying, you’re crying.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Astros bench coach Joe Espada has two days off before Houston hosts Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, but it looks like some of that time will be spent in Chicago.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs will interview Espada a second time for their managerial opening. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports that the interview is happening on Sunday.

Espada is one of the more sought after managerial candidates this offseason, as he's spent the last six seasons with two of baseball's leading franchises. The 44-year-old has been Astros bench coach since 2018, and prior to that, he spent four seasons with the Yankees — 2014 as a front office assistant, 2015-17 as third base coach.

David Ross was the presumed favorite for the Cubs' opening, when the process got underway. However, by landing a second interview, Espada has clearly given the team something to think about. In fact, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan reported on Thursday the Cubs came away "exceptionally impressed" from Espada's first interview on Monday. 

MLB prefers teams not to make managerial announcements during the World Series. So, it might be a few more weeks before the Cubs announce their decision, unless they do so on Sunday or Monday.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.