Teams are eyeing Christopher Morel, but the Cubs would be shortsighted to make a deal

Christopher Morel hasn't had the best of seasons, but with youth on his side, a promising profile, and years of control still left, it'd be foolish to trade him at the deadline this year.
Los Angeles Angels v Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles Angels v Chicago Cubs / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages
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Decision time is fast approaching for the Chicago Cubs with only Baltimore and St. Louis standing in the way of the All-Star break. In all likelihood, they will be sellers in the run-up to the trade deadline and that process could begin soon after the draft barring a miracle run against two red-hot teams. We've already discussed a few names that teams are focusing on, namely Nico Hoerner, Jameson Taillon, and Cody Bellinger, but yet another player has popped up in rumors of late - Christopher Morel.

Matthew Trueblood at North Side Baseball reports that if (or likely when) they officially decide to sell, Hoerner and Morel will be two of the biggest draws. Hoerner isn't a shock given that he's a stellar defensive middle infielder on a reasonable contract with a couple more years of control. Even though he's only hitting a lackluster .246/.329/.338 with a 95 wRC+ on the year, he's coming off of back-to-back 4+ fWAR seasons hitting slightly above league average while also winning his first Gold Glove.

However, Morel is a more curious addition to the rumor mill given his down season. What first seemed like a lot of bad luck has become just a downright poor performance as the Cubs try to mold him into a more complete hitter. He's succeeded in cutting his strikeout rate (23.6%), but not much else has worked with his slash line down to .199/.304/.369./93 wRC+. Even with his struggles, he still leads the team with 15 home runs.

Trading Christopher Morel might be a mistake for the Cubs.

The same athleticism and raw power that made Morel a breakout candidate for the team earlier in the year are still there, they just have yet to fully manifest. At only 25, he still has time to figure it out too. He won't be hitting arbitration until 2026 and free agency until 2029, giving whoever he plays for a cost-controlled project with the potential to be a 30+ home run hitter.

With so much promise, power, and control in one package, teams are likely interested in his long-term outlook, especially if the Cubs are looking to shake things up at the deadline. However, those are also reasons the Cubs should just keep him for 2025 and potentially beyond. Considering the frustrating season he's had, it's hard to see him get back enough in a trade that would justify moving on from him, even if he's paired as a sweetener in another deal.

The comparison isn't one-to-one, but giving up on Morel now when his value is lowest could come back to bite them akin to non-tendering Kyle Schwarber. The latter decision has haunted Cubs fans for years as the lefty slugger has simply continued to do exactly what he did best in Chicago - hit bombs and bring vibes - things they've been bereft of over the last four years. Morel, too, offers a lot of what the Cubs need combined with infectious energy. They severely lack power and with a payroll approaching the luxury tax this year and a seeming mandate to stay under the threshold, young, cost-controlled players are vital.

Maybe this is a conversation to revisit in the offseason if Morel tears up the remainder of the year and an opportunity opens up that makes sense. There's hope that Matt Shaw can be an even better hitter whenever he arrives and clearing a spot for him isn't necessarily a bad thing. Morel also lacks a real defensive home on the team given his struggles at third base, which gives some reason to consider a trade if a good enough offer is there.

As it stands though, the potential is too high to trade Morel now when he's at a low point. Teams are interested in him for a reason. The Cubs shouldn't be too hasty.

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