Despite providing some magical moments amidst a noteworthy rookie season, David Bote does not factor as a critical player for the Chicago Cubs’ future.
There is no denying what David Bote meant to the Chicago Cubs as a fan favorite and reliable role player in 2018. He filled in admirably for Kris Bryant, hitting .458 in July, following that with a historic grand slam against the Washington Nationals in August.
Bote was even more impressive in the field. According to FanGraphs, the 25-year-old totaled five defensive runs saved at third base and had an overall defensive value of 4.3, flashing a slick glove and plus arm from the corner spot.
But despite all of his contributions this season, it is unlikely that Bote can carve out an integral role in Chicago.
For starters, the Cubs already have infield depth. Bryant will have a full season to recover from his shoulder injury, and because of the plentiful options in the outfield – plus the potential of landing Bryce Harper in free agency – the Cubs likely envision Bryant as a fixture at third base moving forward.
Although Ben Zobrist is on the last year of his contract and Addison Russell‘s status with the club remains unknown, guys like Ian Happ and Tommy La Stella are in the mix. Happ certainly may be used as a trade piece in the offseason or even next year, but until he is moved he would likely see time at third as well.
Not to mention, the Cubs may look to add a more dependable and experienced second baseman to account for a likely departure from Daniel Murphy.
It is worth noting here that Bote actually posted a negative UZR rating at second base, although he only played 50 innings there for the Cubs. All the same, he is best suited for the hot corner, and that just not viable given the presence of Bryant.
Additionally, Bote showed a startling failure to make adjustments. After bursting onto the scene in July, he hit just .198 in 131 at-bats over the last two months.
Pitchers repeatedly attacked Bote up in the zone with the fastball, and according to Baseball-Reference he hit just .212 against “power pitchers.” Bote also hit just .264 with runners in scoring position, though he did have a scorching .367 w/RISP and two outs.
There is no question that Bote provided a spark to the Cubs this season. But his upside is mostly predicated on his defensive value at third base, and he simply does not measure up to the potential of Kris Bryant.
If Bote had a higher OBP or isolated power number (just .168, according to FanGraphs) the Cubs might be more determined to find a way to keep him in the lineup more regularly moving forward.
Instead, he is likely to be a trade piece while his value remains relatively high.