Expect Craig Counsell to use the DH spot as way to avoid David Ross' big misstep

We'll likely see a lot of different faces occupy the designated hitter role throughout the season.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The addition of Cody Bellinger to the Cubs roster had a sort of cascade effect on the rest of the club, namely when it comes to some younger players looking to crack the Opening Day roster. The expectation is that Bellinger will be the team's everyday center fielder, with rookie Michael Busch getting a long look at first to open the season.

Christopher Morel will be given every opportunity to win the third base job in camp, which leaves just one vacancy on the lineup card: designated hitter. But first-year Cubs manager Craig Counsell isn't worried about it, telling MLB.com he's more likely to rotate guys in and out of the DH spot throughout the year rather than commit to one player.

“It’s the spot I’ve thought the least about. That probably means that it’s going to be a bunch of guys,” Counsell said. “Right now I’m viewing it as very open and uncommitted.”

How Craig Counsell utilizes the DH spot could be a difference-maker for the Chicago Cubs in 2024

One of the biggest knocks against former Cubs manager David Ross in 2023, especially late in the season, was his unwillingness to rotate fresh guys into the lineup. It was very clear by mid-September that several key pieces were running on fumes and the results spoke for themselves: the Cubs went 5-11 in their final 16 games, missing the postseason by one game.

Based on matchups, we could see a variety of players DH this year, with prime candidates including Busch, Bellinger, Morel and Patrick Wisdom. I wouldn't be surprised to see Seiya Suzuki get some action there, to keep him healthy and, hopefully, playing at the same level he closed out 2023 at when he was one of the best hitters in baseball.

The same MLB.com piece has Counsell saying he's not counting on any more external additions at this point, so it looks like that group will handle the DH duties. Don't expect a late-spring JD Martinez signing because that could handcuff Counsell into locking one player into the spot, which would complicate keeping key players fresh all summer long.