Chicago Cubs answer at third base might not be who fans expect

Christopher Morel's days at the starting third baseman might be numbered.
Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

While the Chicago Cubs remain confident in Christopher Morel's offensive ability and place in the starting lineup, it would seem that the team is reaching the end of the experiment of Morel at third base.

That was the main takeaway from Patrick Mooney's piece in The Athletic (Subscription Required) on Thursday. It seems that a determination is close to being made that Morel's time at third base was all but over.

That does not mean that Morel will never play third base again but the team likely, with the data collected during the first two months of the season, has come to the realization that Morel is not an every day third baseman.

While Matt Shaw has been a popular name for many Cubs fans when speculating what the Cubs will do at third base during the second half of the season, it seems that the team is comfortable with giving Shaw an extended runway in the minor league system to continue his development. While Shaw certainly could be a September Call-up for the Cubs, he likely is not the immediate answer to the team's third base need.

The Cubs need to find an answer at third base.

Craig Counsell also appears determined to stick to matchup-based playing time for both David Bote and Patrick Wisdom. With that in mind, the next man up for the Cubs, as mentioned in Mooney's article, might be Michael Busch.

It's worth remembering that, through his ascension in the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system, Busch primarily played second or third base.

With Pete Crow-Armstrong likely getting increasing starts in center field, the Cubs could slide Busch over to third base while Cody Bellinger plays first. While the Cubs believe in Busch's ability to play first base, most believe third is his better position.

Of course, the question for Busch will be his offensive development. Busch, hitting under .220 over the past two weeks, has struggled considerably since his hot start to the season. The league has adjusted to Busch and the rookie has yet to make the adjustment back. If that adjustment never occurs, the Cubs may still need to seek an external upgrade at third base.