The Cubs have a need at second base and Cesar Hernandez could be the answer.
Since the departure of Ben Zobrist, the Chicago Cubs have seen their share of ups and downs at the second base position. This year, they went with veteran Jason Kipnis, rookie Nico Hoerner and David Bote – with varied results.
Hoerner showed he’s just not ready offensively. He managed a 57 OPS+ on the year which makes sense. People tend to forget he’s barely even got his feet wet in the minors, let alone have the experience to be an impactful big league presence. Kipnis was solid, but at this point in his career, he’s a platoon guy – not someone you pencil in on a daily basis.
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Bote got most of his reps at third. If you consider the injuries Kris Bryant has battled through of late, you can’t count on using Bote at second. Truth be told, he’s going to keep seeing time at third unless Bryant gets back on track and stays healthy for an entire season – something he hasn’t done in quite some time.
So where does that leave the Cubs? Probably looking to free agency once again. They could look for a reunion with Tommy La Stella – but he’ll garner widespread interest given his performance since leaving Chicago. Another high-quality option is Cesar Hernandez.
He’s not ever going to be mentioned with the likes of former Cub and 2020 AL batting champ DJ LeMahieu, but, quite frankly, Chicago can’t afford a player of LeMahieu’s caliber.
Hernandez, 30, signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Indians last offseason after spending the first seven years of his career with the Phillies. The deal worked perfectly for both sides, with the switch-hitting infielder leading the league in doubles and slashing .283/.355/.408.
The Tribe will undoubtedly look to bring him back next season, especially given the fact they could be shopping franchise cornerstone Francisco Lindor in the coming weeks and months. Keeping Hernandez in the fold could bring a degree of certainty up the middle moving forward.
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For the Cubs, Hernandez would be a budget-conscious addition who would solidify the bigger picture. With him at second, Chicago could keep Bote as a utility guy and hot bat off the bench, let Hoerner continue developing in the minors. Kipnis could come back, as well, serving as that key clubhouse veteran similar to the way Daniel Descalso has in the last two years.