The former first-round pick has answered any and all questions about his defensive abilities at shortstop, while flirting with a .300 average at the dish (he entered Sunday’s finale in Milwaukee slashing .289/.338/.403 this year). Regardless of whether or not the Cubs go out and sign one of the marquee free agent shortstops this winter, it’s clear the team needs to find a spot for Hoerner on the roster moving forward.
Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer acknowledged as much, and despite consistently deflecting questions related to extensions, he sounded very open to talking about a long-term extension with his young shortstop this week.
"“Certainly, when you think about where we’re spending money or building a team,” Hoyer told MLB.com, “we absolutely have people in-house we want to extend beyond where their arbitration years are. I think that’s without question.”"
Then, when asked specifically about Hoerner, Hoyer repeated: “That’s without question.”
Hoerner has shown elite bat-to-ball skills, ranking in the 95th percentile in whiff rate and 97th percentile in strikeout rate, according to Baseball Savant. He runs remarkably well, checking in among the top 10 percent of the league in sprint speed, and his defensive work grades out in the top one percent, as well. All these numbers paint a picture of a very well-rounded player and one that could impact the Cubs for years to come.
Cubs can lock in a key piece with a Nico Hoerner extension this winter
With or without an extension, Chicago still has three years of control over Hoerner, but hammering out an extension before Opening Day 2023 could prove beneficial, giving cost certainty on a young guy still just 224 games into his big league career. You’ve seen teams like the Braves do this time and time again, with great success, and after failing to extend any of the previous core, the Cubs would be well-served to get in on this trend in the game.
As for Hoerner, he sounds just as open to sitting down and figuring something out as the front office – making this a major storyline outside of free agency to keep an eye on as the regular season winds down and the hot stove heats up this winter.
"“I love being here,” Hoerner said. “And I think being here from rebuild to the next great team, or whatever you want to call it, would be one of the coolest things you can do in a career. It’d be incredibly satisfying. I love Chicago.”"