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The Cubs Will Have This Young Player Get Consistent Looks at Third Base

With the full Chicago Cubs roster reporting to camp in Mesa less than a week ago, more answers were provided about the third base position for the Cubs. With Matt Chapman still unsigned, manager Craig Counsell told the media that Christopher Morel will take reps at the hot corner daily. Morel was a major topic of discussion for Cubs fans everywhere this offseason. Where would he play? Would he even be a Cubs by Spring Training amid trade rumors? It’s good to see the organization attempting to give Morel a defensive home, but whether it can last is the real question.

Christopher Morel to Focus on Playing Third Base

The Concerns 

There is a reason why Morel has never had a regular defensive home in his short time as a major leaguer. His work in the field could have been better in multiple spots for one main reason. Morel’s arm has proven to be an issue throughout his career in the field. Whether roaming the outfield or playing on the grass, it has been a problem. The 24-year-old has a cannon; there is no denying that.

However, the arm strength doesn’t mean much when he struggles with accuracy. In his 173 games at the highest level, Morel has spent time in all three outfield spots, the middle infield and third base. With Morel looking to play third base more regularly, the reps will be paramount. Of those 173 games, only 23 have come at the hot corner for Morel.

Long-Term Outlook for Morel at the Hot Corner 

For the 2024 season, Morel will probably get the bulk of the work at third base. Nick MadrigalMiles Mastrobuoni, and even Michael Busch will also work in the position, but it’s hard to believe it isn’t Morel’s spot to lose. With spring training games beginning on Friday, Morel starting every game at the hot corner (where the routine guys are playing) is essential. Having a potent bat, Morel will always find him a spot in the order. The slugger combined for 37 homers last season between Triple-A and the majors.

He registered 26 long balls across 388 at-bats in 107 games with the big club. In the game of baseball, having a bat of Morel’s caliber almost always guarantees you a spot in the order. There will be a place for him if his production stays at the plate (and his strikeout rate stays down). 

Looking beyond 2024 regarding Morel’s future defensive outlook can be challenging. Having him at third base could seem great on paper. However, it’s yet to be determined if he’ll even stick at the position by mid-June or beyond. The big talk within the organization has been to find guys to hold the fort down at third base until it’s time for Matt Shaw and James Triantos to crack the roster. Morel could be suitable for just that. Having too many cooks in the kitchen is a good problem for Jed Hoyer, and if Morel becomes a defensive wizard at the hot corner, the possibilities for the future of this infield are endless.

Main Photo: © David Banks-USA TODAY Sports


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