The Cubs will likely be looking for a new 3rd baseman for the 2012 MLB season and beyond. Aramis Ramirez declined his player option for $16 million for the 2012 MLB season. Ramirez is looking for a long-term deal and at the age of 33, the Cubs will not be a bidder in that war. Ramirez hit .306 with 26 HR’s and 93 RBI’s in one of the worst offenses in all of baseball. His 80 runs scored and .361 on-base percentage make him an attractive player, but if you watch him play everyday, you know that his career is on the decline. His fielding has deteriorated over the years and he’s just not the player that the Cubs want to waste extra money on, especially since they are still strapped with several other “bad” contracts that they can’t wait to get “off the books” (see Alfonso Soriano/Carlos Zambrano).
That leaves the Cubs with a battle between two prospects – DJ LeMahieu and Josh Vitters. LaMahieu played in 37 games for the Cubs this past season, hitting .250 with 4 RBI’s and 2 doubles. He struck out 12 times while walking only once in 60 at-bats (good for a .262 on-base percentage). Not great. Vitters had a good minor league season, but is still considered to be a year or two away because of past injury issues. At Double-A Tennessee, Vitters had a .283 batting average, he hit 14 HR’s and 28 doubles and he drove in 81 runs. Vitters was the 3rd overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player draft and the Cubs would like him to get some time at the major league level before they commit to him as the long-term 3rd baseman of the future. He had 2 HR’s in his 1st game of the AFL this October and looks to use a good fall to get ready for a productive 2012 spring training with the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new on the 3rd base position front.