Nick Madrigal injury could help this Cubs player's odds of making the Opening Day roster

If Madrigal opens the year on the injured list, the Cubs could avoid choosing between two players with similar strengths - at least for now.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
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Nick Madrigal continues to work his way back from a mild hamstring strain that's limited him to just six spring training games but it's still very much a possibility that he starts the season on the IL, opening up a spot on the Cubs bench come Opening Day.

It feels like that bench picture is slowly coming into focus, with Miguel Amaya, Mike Tauchman and Miles Mastrobuoni feeling like near-locks for their respective reasons. I wondered if Craig Counsell and Jed Hoyer might feel forced to choose between two other players, though, given their similar strengths, in Garrett Cooper and Patrick Wisdom. The Madrigal injury, however, could allow the team to take a wait-and-see approach with the pair of corner infielders.

Cubs may delay choosing between Garrett Cooper, Patrick Wisdom

Cooper, a former All-Star with Miami who averaged a 110 OPS+ from 2019 to 2023, joined the Cubs on a minor league deal in early March and has been impressive this spring. He, like Wisdom, could shore up the team's depth both at first and the DH spot, adding power, especially against left-handed pitching - something that could be very important if the team protects Michael Busch from southpaws early in the year.

In his career, Cooper sports an .816 OPS against lefties, about 60 points higher than his career mark against right-handed pitchers. Wisdom also hits lefties better than righties, with an .813 career OPS in 421 trips to the plate. The big difference is Cooper strikes out less and gets on base more, while Wisdom certainly carries a higher ceiling in the power department.

Once healthy, Madrigal is going to be on this roster. Given the uncertainty over how Christopher Morel will fare defensively at third base, Counsell will want insurance options at the position and Madrigal showed he's more than capable last season. Maybe I'm wrong and the Cubs find a way to carry both, instead optioning Mastrobuoni to Iowa, but it feels like before the year is up, the front office will choose between the two.

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