Cubs News: Nick Madrigal hasn't earned an Opening Day roster spot
By Jake Misener
When Cubs players reported to camp last month, the biggest question surrounding Nick Madrigal was whether or not he'd be able to hand adding third base to his defensive repertoire - a question that's since been answered by a solid showing at the hot corner in Cactus League action.
Despite his checking that box, though, Madrigal may still wind up on the outside looking in when it comes to the Cubs Opening Day roster. The bench picture is crowded and Madrigal, along with Christopher Morel and Miles Mastrobuoni, all have minor league options remaining. That could give someone like Zach McKinstry, who doesn't have any options left, the inside track on a bench spot, despite his spring struggles (.259 OPS in 40 PA).
Cubs need more offensively if Nick Madrigal is to play a role
Madrigal hasn't exactly set the world ablaze with the stick, either, though, slashing .250/.302/.275 this spring. For a guy who's never been a defensive wizard, putting the bat on the ball is a must - and letting him get everyday at-bats at Triple-A Iowa might help him find a rhythm he can carry with him to Wrigley this summer.
Edwin Rios and Patrick Wisdom, also in the mix at third base, have both had very strong springs and could form a powerful platoon for David Ross. Rios, who never had a path to consistent playing time with the Dodgers, has 4 home runs and a .898 OPS in 45 trips to the plate. Meanwhile, Wisdom boasts a 1.039 OPS and blasted his second homer of the spring Saturday.
Wisdom will likely see time in right field or potentially first base while Ross juggles the roster to fill the void left by the injured Seiya Suzuki - but his absence looks like it'll be much shorter than initially anticipated. In other words, the third base picture (at least in a perfect world) should be back to normal sooner rather than later, once Suzuki returns to action.
A key piece that came over in the Craig Kimbrel trade, Madrigal hasn't lived up to the hype since joining the Cubs. Now, with Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner locking things down up the middle, and a much improved depth picture at third, it's going to be challenging to find him enough at-bats early in the year to warrant his inclusion on the roster.