While the organization has some options to slide into second base, it would be wise for the Chicago Cubs to get a veteran for 2020.
Last season Chicago Cubs fans got a small taste of 22-year-old Nico Hoerner‘s potential when the team suffered some injuries late in the year. Hoerner slashed .282/.305/.436 with three homers and a .741 OPS in 20 games. The kid definitely has potential and is hoped to be part of the team’s infield in the near future, but he likely still needs some work.
Hoerner is currently on the 40-man roster and has a shot at the Opening Day roster, but it is not set in stone. It would not be surprising at all to see him start the season in the minors. If Javier Baez remains at short and they need to plug in someone at second. There are options on the current 40-man roster including: David Bote, Daniel Descalso, Zack Short and Robel Garcia.
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When looking at current options the best is probably Bote. Descalso, if he remains on the roster, will be a bench/utility man while Short is an unknown and Garcia still has to prove he is an MLB-caliber player.
While the in-house second base cupboard is not empty, the Cubs could still benefit by picking up a veteran second baseman. Having a solidified, proven man could help create some stability on the infield and it can be acquired by not breaking the bank.
Current options the Cubs could realistically look at.
While none of the remaining free agent second baseman are overly exciting, there are names that could be a nice fit. They would not likely commit to one of these options for more than one season.
Some external names that could be of interest include: Brock Holt, Scooter Gennett, Derek Dietrich, Jason Kipnis and Wilmer Flores. Right now Holt seems like a pipe dream despite him being a nice fit and Kipnis has struggled offensively in recent years, but guys like Gennett and Dietrich could be nice cheap options that could pay off offensively and are not long-term commitments.
Gennett was sidelined most of 2019 with injuries (which has dropped his current value) and only played in 42 games, but hit .303/.541/.508 with 50 homers in 2017-2018 with the Reds. He is a good comeback candidate in 2020 and can provide a nice veteran presence. Dietrich slugged 19 homers with a .790 OPS in 113 games despite batting .187 last year. Overall his defense is not great but he is a career .334 OBP player with some pop. Between these two, Gennett is the more balanced player.
Free agents are not the only options to get a short-term veteran second baseman. Potential trades could happen, but smaller ones. I highly doubt a Whit Merrifield trade is happening right now.
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While like mentioned earlier it is certainly possible to keep the second base solution in 2020 in-house, stability at the position would be very nice to have. Even if later in the season they bring up Hoerner (if he does not make the squad out of spring) and they give him more time, having a solid veteran is not a bad idea considering all the question marks.