State of the Cubs: Where roster stands in left field in 2022 and beyond
With the lockout over and Spring Training kicking into gear, the focus shifts to the Cubs’ roster. Jed Hoyer, Carter Hawkins and the rest of the front office still have some holes to fill before the first regular season game on April 7.
We break down the organizational depth chart at each position post-lockout and what to expect in 2022 and beyond.
Next up: Left Field
1. Ian Happ
2. Clint Frazier
3. Harold Ramírez
Note: It still remains to be seen how reported free agent signing Seiya Suzuki will fit into the Cubs outfield. He played both corner spots in Japan, but mostly spent time in right field.
In the second half of 2021, Happ moved into left field and thrived in the role. As a left fielder, he posted an .877 OPS with 13 home runs, compared to a .671 OPS with a .195 batting average and 9 home runs when playing center.
Happ figures to be the Cubs Opening Day left fielder, but there are injury concerns.
When Spring Training camp opened up, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer revealed that Happ had an operation in February to “clean up loose body-type thing in his [right] elbow.” Happ should be ready for Opening Day, but the Cubs have indicated they’ll play it safe with him.
The incorporation of the DH in the NL this season allows the Cubs to keep his bat in the lineup while protecting his elbow.
If Happ DHs or is out, offseason acquisitions Frazier and Ramírez should compete for the position. Frazier has been a corner outfielder for the majority of his 5-year big league career with the Yankees. He has a career OPS of .761 in that time.
Ramírez played 49 games in left field for Cleveland last year, but is a late attendee to camp because of visa complications. He has a .717 OPS in 221 career games.
Left field could see some young prospects in 2022 like Brennen Davis and Nelson Velázquez, who are both knocking at the door of the big leagues.
Happ should be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter in left field when they play the Brewers. As the team manages his workload, though, expect to see a healthy dose of other players filling in the role.