Cubs right to view Christopher Morel as a future superutility player

(Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images) /

This year, Cubs rookie Christopher Morel played a key role for the team, plugging various holes around the diamond, seeing time at second, short, third, left and center field. That seems to be the way he’ll be used moving forward, opening up all kinds of possibilities as Chicago looks to assemble a postseason-worthy roster this winter.

"‘‘There’s not many guys in the big leagues that can do what he does,’’ Cubs assistant coach Jonathan Mota told the Chicago Sun-Times, ‘‘the consistency he’s shown at times in each position.’’"

Morel made the jump to the big leagues straight from Double-A and, along with the highs, there were plenty of learning moments as the season progressed. Still, he finished the year with a 107 OPS+ to go along with his defensive versatility.

Despite needs in center field and in the infield, tapping Morel as the utility guy heading into 2023 keeps all kinds of avenues open to Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins.

We’ve seen the value a jack-of-all-trades defender with some pop can bring to a team. It wasn’t that long ago Ben Zobrist made a career of such a role, winning back-to-back World Series in 2015 and 2016 with Kansas City and Chicago. More recently, guys like Chris Taylor have played integral roles for some of the best clubs in the league.

Cubs know Christopher Morel has a role to play for the team moving forward

We’ve seen baseball focus more and more on matchups on a daily basis and there’s always a guy who will need rest. Having a go-to guy capable of covering four or five positions on the roster is a game-changer, especially one with the offensive upside Morel showed in his rookie campaign.

The best-case scenario would be Chicago going out, adding that badly-needed proven commodity in center and bringing in a star shortstop from this winter’s loaded free agent class. There’s still a degree of uncertainty when it comes to Ian Happ, who’s heading into a contract year, and Morel adds insurance there, as well – another win.

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I like the fact that surrounding Morel with proven pieces will allow him to continue to develop in year two. After all, this guy is still just 23 years old and it’s highly unlikely we’ve seen the last of the bumps in the road as he learns and adapts at the game’s highest level. Rather than ratchet up the pressure by tapping him for a regular starting role next season, leaning on him for versatility and giving him more leeway is a win for everyone involved.