Cubs: Middle infield battle between Zach McKinstry and Nick Madrigal
The Cubs traded Chris Martin for Zach McKinstry at the trade deadline, possibly to light a fire under Nick Madrigal, a midseason pickup from last summer that ended the Craig Kimbrel experiment on the North Side. Madrigal had struggled in the first half of the season but has since picked it up after McKinstry joined the mix.
McKinstry has not had the most successful career in the big leagues but he has enough experience to warrant a bit of a competition. All signs point to the Cubs signing one of the top shortstops in free agency this winter and sliding Nico Hoerner to either second base or having said addition get reps at the hot corner.
Assuming his move is back to second base after just one season at shortstop, the Cubs will have their middle infield locked up heading into 2023. That would leave one spot open as a fill-in option when the Cubs need someone to make a start or pinch-hit.
Madrigal should have the upper hand given the cost of acquiring him and the upside that he brings to the table. He has slowly gotten back to being himself at the plate and has hit the ball well since the All-Star break.
With just over a month remaining in the season, Madrigal has a chance to solidify himself as the extra infielder with Christopher Morel joining him but also serving as outfield help.
While McKinstry has had some good at-bats since joining the Cubs, his career numbers are worrisome. He has a career .209/.259/.379 slash line and has not posted a batting average over .215 since 2020.
If he wants to make the team in 2023, he has to catch fire down the final stretch, similar to what Frank Schwindel did last season.