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Albert Almora will be one of the team’s biggest decisions

It’s a little strange to think that someone who hit .319 for half the season is a question mark. But that’s the case for Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora.

Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora was thought to be an All-Star candidate in the first half of the season, and many people around baseball thought he was a snub when he didn’t get a trip to D.C. for the Midsummer Classic.

The former first-rounder slashed .319/.357/.438 in the first half, making highlight-reel catch after highlight-reel catch. It seemed as if, at long last, he was turning into the everyday player we’d all hoped he could be. We’d seen glimpses for years, but this was the first time he put it all together.

But down the stretch, Almora fell flat. He hit just .232 with a .267 on-base percentage in 66 games. With the team’s offensive shortcomings in the second half, we’re now looking at whether or not the Miami area native is a staple moving forward.

This winter might be the make-or-break moment for Albert Almora. Why? It may depend on Theo Epstein’s offseason plans – most importantly, whether or not the Cubs can sign coveted free agent Bryce Harper.

Let’s look at the two different scenarios

If Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer can convince Harper to come to Chicago and if ownership is willing to dish out the $300-plus million it will likely take to get Harper to sign on the dotted line, the chances of Almora being traded go up exponentially.

However, Almora will most likely not be the only Cubs young outfielder put on the trading block. You would also be able to add names like Ian Happ and maybe, to a much lesser extent, Kyle Schwarber too

Happ and/or Almora are much more likely to be traded then Schwaber – that is for sure. It may honestly come down to the Cubs telling other teams to “take your pick.”

If Harper signs elsewhere

Now let’s say, Bryce Harper chooses to sign somewhere other than Chicago. What do the Cubs do the then?

If that indeed happens, the odds of Almora be traded do go down somewhat. But there will remain a decent chance of Almora or Happ get moved if the right deal comes knocking.

The truth of the matter is due to the versatility of players like Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, finding consistent playing time can be challenging. All three guys can play all three outfield positions. Bryant and Zobrist also see regular reps in the infield, as well.

Let’s also not overlook the possibility of the Cubs adding an outfielder that isn’t named Bryce Harper. The Cubs have been linked to the option of adding veteran outfielder and longtime Cubs killer Andrew McCutchen as a sort of backup plan if they lose out on Harper.

Next: Manny Machado is not the Cubs’ cup of tea

What do I think happens?

I don’t know if the Cubs will be able to sign Bryce Harper, but as a fan, I hope they do. Nevertheless, I do see Albert Almora being moved this winter. The truth is: he’s got so much talent  – more than he should have as a platoon player. A trade should help the Cubs net a fairly decent haul in return.

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