The Chicago Cubs optioned Pete Crow-Armstrong to the minor leagues on Friday, which means the MLB’s No. 16 overall prospect will start his season with Triple-A Iowa. There is natural skepticism whenever a club options a talented, presumed MLB-ready prospect to the minors, but this move is simply rooted in logistics.

As Craig Counsell noted to reporters, this move “made sense” in the aftermath of Cody Bellinger’s three-year, $80 million extension.

Craig Counsell explains why top prospect won't be on Cubs Opening Day roster

The Cubs have a full outfield depth chart with Bellinger, Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ, and Mike Tauchmann. First base, Bellinger’s other position, also features several worthy lineup candidates in Patrick Wisdom, Garrett Cooper, and Michael Busch.

It’s as simple as a roster crunch. Crow-Armstrong has showcased plenty of promise, but he did not fair well in spring training. Expect the Cubs to consider recalling him during the regular season, especially if PCA dominates the minors. As the roster currently stands, however, he would not receive consistent major league ABs.

Cubs' Craig Counsell explains why top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong will  start 2024 season at Triple-A -

Crow-Armstrong appeared in 34 games for Triple-A Iowa last season, slashing .271/.350/.479 with six home runs and 22 RBI in 140 AB. The talented 21-year-old made a few sparse appearances for the MLB Cubs late in the season, playing in 13 games. He registered zero hits, three walks, and three runs in 19 plate appearances.’

Cubs demote Pete Crow-Armstrong: What will it take for him to return to  Wrigley Field? - The Athletic

While Crow-Armstrong is a tremendous athlete, there are valid concerns about his offensive output at the highest level. In 11 spring training games, he slashed .160/.222/.280 with four hits, one RBI, and three strikeouts in 25 AB. That is hardly a meaningful sample size, but Crow-Armstrong’s excellent bat-to-ball skills have not translated in sparse ABs against major-league competition. Moreover, Crow-Armstrong’s traditionally elite defense was not on display in Cactus League play. He’s still learning the ropes, and that’s perfectly okay for a prospect as young as PCA.