Projecting the 2023 Cubs Opening Day lineup

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

It is around that time where many people begin to predict what next year’s lineups and rotations will look like. There are endless possibilities, of course, especially heading into what should be the first ‘normal’ offseason in three years. Regardless, it is fun to think of the different possibilities, and hope that next year’s Cubs lineup will be significantly better than this years. My fellow contributor Luke Parrish wrote an article on projecting next year’s starting rotation, so let’s turn our attention to a realistic starting lineup.

  1. Christopher Morel – 3B
  2. Nico Hoerner – 2B
  3. Xander Bogaerts – SS
  4. Ian Happ – LF
  5. Seiya Suzuki – RF
  6. Willson Contreras – C
  7. Nelson Velazquez – CF
  8. Franmil Reyes – DH
  9. Yuli Gurriel – 1B

Breaking down the 2023 Cubs Opening Day lineup, piece-by-piece

The leadoff hitter should be someone with speed and/or a high on-base percentage, and that is Christopher Morel. The rookie utility fielder should be batting at the top of the order, whereas now he bats toward the bottom. Morel is someone with speed and can get on base. He’s struggled lately, but will head into the offseason ready to make key adjustments and get back to what he did earlier this year – serving as the team’s spark plug.

If Nick Madrigal is on the team next season, he will be a backup. The Cubs’ second baseman next season should be Nico Hoerner. Yes, Hoerner is a shortstop first, but as David Ross hinted at in his comments this week, the 2023 shortstop could easily be someone signed in the offseason. Given Hoerner’s versatility, shifting him back to second is hardly the end of the world.

The shortstop will be someone who is currently not on the team. If Xander Bogaerts opts out of his Red Sox contract, then he will be Chicago’s new shortstop. However, if he doesn’t opt out, then Trea Turner should be signed by the Cubs. Turner will bring an elite bat and speed, as well as a solid glove to the team.

All-Star switch-hitting outfielder Ian Happ will be back with the team next season, and after his breakout year, the former first-rounder deserves the chance to drive in some runs in the middle of the order in 2023.

Since coming back from the IL, rookie outfielder Seiya Suzuki has been great. He is someone that will get on base, has solid discipline at the plate, and will drive in runners. What more can you ask for?

The Cubs didn’t trade soon-to-be free agent Willson Contreras at the deadline, putting themselves in a position where they pretty much have to re-sign him this winter. Bring him back, let him lead the next great Cubs team.

Nelson Velazquez was called up earlier this season and has shown flashes of potential. The young outfielder deserves a chance to get the Opening Day start against the Brewers and become an everyday player.

Sliding into the eighth spot and adding some power near the bottom of the lineup, Franmil Reyes is the obvious choice to DH for the North Siders. Bringing Reyes back into the fold, especially given what he’s done since coming to Chicago, is a no-brainer.

The Cubs’ Opening Day first baseman is not currently on the roster. It will be another free agent signing, probably a veteran to initially hold things down until they hand things over to Matt Mervis, who has turned in a monster season in the minor leagues. Signing Yuli Gurriel to a one-year contract would make the most sense while they wait for Mervis to be called up.

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The Cubs bench will likely include Nick Madrigal, Zack McKinstry, Yan Gomes, P.J. Higgins and Rafael Ortega – but you can also count on some depth additions in free agency this winter.