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
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Chicago Cubs: Hoerner could be a difference-maker next season

If the Cubs are going to compete in the National League Central, they’ll need Hoerner to play a big role. There are too many questions without him in the mix. That’s not to say he’ll open the year on the 26-man roster, but he’ll spend the majority of the year in Chicago, regardless of what the front office has said.

"“We haven’t figured that out yet,” Theo Epstein said earlier this month. “I think you could make strong arguments on both sides, whether he should be part of the club on Opening Day or a little bit more seasoning [in the minors]. I think a lot will depend on what else we do and yeah, sure, what type of spring training you have might be a factor as well. We’re not at the point where we’re ready to make that decision yet, but we’re open-minded.”"

In the final months of the offseason, we could very well see several integral parts of the team’s core shipped out via trade. If the ongoing grievance filed on behalf of Kris Bryant is ever resolved, he could be an incredibly valuable chip, as well as catcher Willson Contreras. Seeing the team unload someone like Jose Quintana could also help the Cubs reload, especially with the lack of options on the free agent market.

Next. With eight weeks till Spring Training, Cubs still quiet. dark

Hoerner is nowhere near the odds-favorite to bring home the National League Rookie of the Year honors next fall. But he’s got the tools and the ability to do all the little things that, when you grind over the course of 162 games, could translate to some eye-popping numbers. But before we get there, we’ll need a clearer picture of what the Cubs look like heading into 2020.