Chicago Cubs latest plan indicates shift in free agency pursuits

Chicago Cubs make headlines as Craig Counsell shifts Christopher Morel's focus to third base, potentially impacting free agent signings.

Division Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
Division Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The first full-squad practice for the Chicago Cubs is set for this week but with the arrival of Christopher Morel on Saturday, new Cubs' manager Craig Counsell made headlines with what he envisions the plan for Morel to be.

After not receiving an opportunity to get in-game action at first base during the Dominican Winter League season, Counsell revealed that the Cubs are moving forward with Morel's primary focus being on playing third base.

Counsell's decision was the answer to the wish that Cubs fans have had for Morel throughout much of the past two seasons. Beyond the idea of Morel potentially providing a long-term solution at third base for the Cubs, the immediate fallout points to a shift in their free agency pursuits.

While free agent third baseman Matt Chapman has been the central name mentioned in rumors, hello Cody Bellinger, the Cubs have been linked to Chapman given the need they have at third base and the preference for run prevention. While Morel's focus shifting to third base wouldn't stop the Cubs from pursuing Chapman if a deal falls within their price range, it does make a signing less likely.

Where Morel's shift to third base does provide intrigue is what the Cubs will do with the designated hitter's spot in their lineup. For a team that has a need for multiple impact bats to be added to their starting lineup, the designated hitter's being open does point to potential interest in free agent J.D. Martinez.

Martinez clubbed 33 home runs for the Dodgers last season and for a Cubs team that has long been in search of power, the veteran would be a much-needed addition to the lineup. The Cubs now have a clearer path to adding two bats to their lineup, assuming Bellinger is the primary addition.

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