Why the Chicago Cubs could continue to move Christopher Morel around the diamond instead of playing him at one position

Christopher Morel’s positional future stays unknown, and the Chicago Cubs are OK with that.

Beyond upgrading the Cubs’ roster, one of many group’s most urgent questions coming into the offseason centered on Morel.

He possesses the instruments and athleticism to play a number of positions, one thing the 24-year-old has grow to be accustomed to by way of his first two big-league seasons. In October, throughout his end-of-season information convention, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer mentioned determining Morel’s positional future and the right way to finest make the most of him can be one thing the Cubs wanted to guage main as much as 2024.

Four weeks earlier than camp begins in Mesa, Ariz., the Cubs are protecting an open thoughts on the place Morel will slot in defensively as they search for methods to maintain his electrical bat within the lineup.

“We’re going to have to at some point decide where we focus a lot of the work on with Christopher,” supervisor Craig Counsell mentioned Saturday. “And we would get that incorrect at the beginning, however his versatility is one thing that’s going to get him on the sphere that I feel offers the workforce a ground if that is sensible, like the place if one thing doesn’t go the best way you need it or perhaps the best way you deliberate it initially that you would be able to make an adjustment and have lots of choices there.

“That’s what versatile players do and that’s what I think Christopher is going to do for the Cubs.”

Morel acquired work at first base within the Dominican Republic the place he performed winter ball, although he didn’t log any sport motion on the place and predominantly began at third base. The pregame work and video the Cubs acquired was productive, normal supervisor Carter Hawkins mentioned Saturday.

“We’re excited to see how that plays out,” Hawkins mentioned. “But from an athletic standpoint, I mean, if you can play shortstop from a hand standpoint, you should be able to play first and he definitely shows that.”

Third base would appear be the perfect place for Morel to take over, pending any additional offseason strikes. He’s proven flashes of defensive greatness but in addition struggles at instances with routine performs and consistency on his throws. Morel, who was not on the Cubs Convention over the weekend due to visa points based on an Instagram story on his account, began solely two video games and performed 39 1/3 complete innings at third base in 2023.

So why not play Morel at third each day in spring coaching to see whether or not he can deal with it?

“I mean, you could put all our chips in one spot or we can put half our chips in one and the other,” Hawkins mentioned. “I don’t know that one is a better answer or not. Our decision right now is to play him at multiple places and to the extent we feel like there’s better odds in one we’ll continue to put more chips there. But it’s just the strategic plan we have at this moment.”

Counsell agrees with the counterpoint to positional versatility: sticking at one place each day will make a participant higher at that place. However, the Cubs are considering large image in the case of Morel and the workforce.

“That’s maybe a little bit of the sacrifice you make, but I’d argue you’re more valuable playing more positions and being versatile,” Counsell mentioned. “Season to season, putting a team together, daily managing lineups, versatility is good for everybody I think.”

Ben Zobrist ‘very honored’ by Shōta Imanaga’s quantity alternative

Shōta Imanaga wasn’t going to accept any random jersey quantity after signing with the Cubs.

He had researched the franchise’s historical past and knew he needed to put on No. 18 in hopes of embodying what former Cub Ben Zobrist meant on the sphere and within the clubhouse. Imanaga requested his brokers at Octagon, which additionally represents Zobrist, to provide the 2016 World Series MVP a heads-up about his alternative.

The significance was not misplaced on Zobrist.

“Coming from an honor culture that means a lot,” Zobrist mentioned of the Japanese lefty. “That was probably personally what I felt most honored by was that comment, just because of course that would be something that I’d want to be known for from my time here. So the fact that he gathered that based on his research, it’s a big honor.”

Zobrist participated in a panel Saturday that includes the 2016 World Series workforce, becoming a member of former teammates Justin Grimm, Kyle Hendricks, Miguel Montero and Pedro Strop on stage at Cubs Convention.

“It’s beautiful to be able to come back and be a part of Cubs Nation and to be recognized as one of the guys that helped the team win the World Series in ’16,” mentioned Zobrist, who wore his championship ring. “It’s something that I’ll always get a chance to enjoy. … I can’t tell you how many times people have stopped and just said thank you to me and I just feel just super blessed that I got to be a part of it.”