This Cubs team doesn’t need a big money shortstop this offseason

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Since the trade deadline, the Cubs have somewhat quietly been playing their best baseball of the season. Despite selling off their bullpen arms, they’ve put together a team ERA of 3.27 (as of August 26), good for fourth in all of baseball along with a 19-14 record (T-8th).

This group has really come together and the showcase of young talent has really been on display. Two highlights of this season come in the form of Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal in the middle infield. After watching this team since Madrigal got healthy and back to what he’s done his entire career, they’ve shown us this team can compete in 2023 without signing a big money shortstop.

Coming over with Codi Heuer from the Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade, we hadn’t gotten a healthy version of the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft. When Madrigal did begin his career with the Cubs, he plated a .222 average with a .263 on-base-percentage during the first half of the season. Fans wanted to write him off as a bust.

However, he’s gotten back to 100 percent and shown us the second baseman we traded for. He’s batting .300 with a .382 on-base-percentage since the All-Star break. Madrigal is coming into his own and the Cubs have the chance to double down on their investment in the former Oregon State Beaver. Making $716,000 this season and at just  25 years old, there is a ton of value in giving him consistent opportunities moving forward. If he can be the contact and on-base guy he’s known to be, Jed Hoyer and the front office can spend their money elsewhere this winter.

With Madrigal at second, Hoerner has been the break-out star this team needed at shortstop. He’s shown leadership, grit, an elite glove at shortstop and has emerged as a core piece for this team’s future. He is the main reason the Cubs don’t need to back up the Brinks truck for Carlos Correa, Trea Turner or Xander Bogaerts.

Cubs: Make no mistake – Nico Hoerner is already an elite shortstop

To put it into perspective, Hoerner has the seventh-best WAR (4.2) amongst middle infielders this season. He’s also tied for fourth for highest batting average amongst shortstops (.291). What he’s shown this season is that he deserves some national attention. He’s in a similar spot as Madrigal at 25 years old making just $720,000 this season.

To have this much potential in the middle infield for less than $2 million is something to not take for granted. What the Cubs should do is take an Atlanta Braves-style approach and lock up their young guys early. Commit to the guys who we believed in coming out of the draft while making a smart financial decision. The production is there, so take that big paycheck you have ready and look to spend at first base instead.

I believe in the middle infield the Cubs currently have and believe the skills Hoerner and Madrigal provide are exactly what the front office is looking for as they build the next competitive Cubs team. Sure, Madrigal has to show more of what he’s capable of and Hoerner still has to show his ability to stay healthy, but they’ve really shown some positives, especially of late.

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Despite the record, we know what the Cubs are playing for. They want to show the baseball world they are ready to compete and they’ve been fun to watch as a result. The last month of the season will be entertaining and it’ll be great to see this team gear up for a big offseason.