Chicago Cubs News: 3 positions battles to watch in Spring Training
As we turn the corner to February, we are nearly two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting for the Chicago Cubs. Looking ahead to Spring Training, several questions remain going into the 2023 campaign that will need to be addressed. For the most part, however, the projected everyday lineup is essentially set, but there will be position battles and starting roles that can be earned between players. Let's dive right in, starting with third base.
3 position battles - 3. Third Base
Candidates - 1. Patrick Wisdom
Patrick Wisdom's thump in his bat gives him the upside to at least DH for a team in an everyday role offensively. After that, there's still quite a bit to be desired. He slashed just .207/.298/.426, albeit with 25 HRs and 66 RBIs. However, his K rate still hovered at 34%. To make matters worse, he finished dead last in outs above average (-11) and runs prevented (-8) among qualified third basemen. The chicken or feathers approach will have to change, and Spring Training will be a big test to see where he stands if he is to earn an everyday role in 2023.
Candidates - 2. Christopher Morel
Due to his versatility in the field, Christopher Morel is slightly more of a lock to at least fill in where he can. He, too, finished with a mark of -7 runs prevented and -8 outs above average. Numbers such as these are what prompted the Cubs to put such an emphasis on defense this winter. He finished 2022 with a line of .235/.308/.433, and his 108 wRC+ was slightly higher than Wisdom's at 104. Morel started hot in may with a line of .283/.387/.491/125 wRC+, but as pitchers adjusted, he began to struggle over time. For example, Morel hit just .196/.255/.373 against sliders. The defensive versatility to fill in provides value, but adjustments must be made to take the next step forward offensively.