Chicago Cubs have a Rookie of the Year candidate in Nico Hoerner

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

After stepping in late in the year, Nico Hoerner could play a huge role for the Chicago Cubs in 2020 – perhaps emerging as a Rookie of the Year candidate.

This was never the plan. Nico Hoerner, the team’s first-round pick from the 2018 draft, was yet to play a game at Triple-A Iowa when the Cubs called him up to fill in at shortstop. With both Javier Baez and Addison Russell sidelined, the team had no other option as they tried to will their way to the postseason for a fifth consecutive season.

Hoerner, even now just 22 years of age, did everything he could to get the club across the finish line. He hit .282 on the year and in his first six big league games, he drove in three or more runs three times. With Chicago looking to shake up the roster heading into 2020, many have pondered Hoerner’s role moving forward.

Baez will return to shortstop in 2020 and could be cemented at the position for the long haul, especially if the Cubs are able to work out an extension with the sweet-swinging superstar. He’ll need a double play partner up the middle, though – which is where Hoerner could spend the majority of his time.

With no money to address a position where they got virtually no production in 2019, Chicago may very well have to look for internal answers at second. David Bote seems like a logical option, along with Ian Happ. But there’s no guarantee either of those guys aren’t dealt in the next two months – which could leave the Cubs asking a lot of Hoerner sooner rather than later.