The Chicago Cubs have been connected to just about every major free agent and trade target out there, but have been extremely quiet to begin this offseason. They were one of many teams that wound up doing absolutely nothing during the Winter Meetings.
The Cubs added Craig Counsell to be their new manager, but have yet to address a roster that missed out on the postseason in 2023 and has several key free agents including Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman available for any team to sign.
While the Cubs will look to do some damage in free agency, they should also be very active in the trade market. These players were not traded during the Winter Meetings but won't be in a Cubs uniform when Opening Day rolls around.
Christopher Morel has been a popular name on the trade market this offseason. He was connected to both Pete Alonso and Tyler Glasnow at certain points already this offseason, and if Chicago does wind up making a big blockbuster, Morel could easily find his way into one.
There's a lot of good that comes with Morel, but he's far from a perfect player. The imperfections make him more likely to be moved than not.
Morel is just 24 years old and just posted an .821 OPS while hitting 26 home runs this past season in only 107 games played. He is already a terrific power hitter. He has five years of control remaining, and made appearances at six different positions plus the DH spot for the Cubs in 2023 alone.
All of those things are great, but Morel leaves a lot to be desired too. While he played at many positions, he never stuck at any. His best spot is really DH, which is not super appealing for teams that would be looking to acquire him. Additionally, while he has tons of power, Morel strikes out a lot and doesn't get on base at a very high clip. There are reasons teams would want him, but the concerns are very real as well.
The Cubs could definitely use Morel, but can also ship him to a rebuilding team as part of a package that would bring them back a better player. Don't be surprised if that happens, especially if they fail to land the top free agents on the market.
A position the Cubs have been heavily linked to this offseason is first base as they try and improve their offense. The Cubs have been connected to Pete Alonso on the trade market as well as Rhys Hoskins in free agency. While there aren't as many great options outside of those two, it's noteworthy that Chicago seems interested in upgrading at that position.
If Opening Day took place today, Matt Mervis would likely be their starter, at least against right-handed pitching. While Mervis definitely has potential, he certainly didn't show much in his first taste of MLB action.
Mervis made his MLB debut in early May and got around a month of consistent at-bats before the Cubs eventually sent him back down to the minors. They did that after he had just 15 hits in his 90 MLB at-bats. He did hit three home runs but also struck out 32 times, over a third of the time he recorded an official at-bat.
The 25-year-old did go down and have a good year in AAA, but for a team trying to compete right now he didn't quite show enough to be handed the job. If the Cubs do find a first baseman, expect Mervis to appear on the trade block with Chicago looking to upgrade in other places as well.
At the non-tender deadline, it felt likely that the Cubs were going to non-tender at least one of their third basemen. Both Nick Madrigal and Patrick Wisdom have their strengths, but neither really proved to be consistently solid enough to assume everyday roles. Madrigal especially felt like a player Chicago would consider moving on from, but instead, they kept him around. At least for now.
Madrigal was traded from the White Sox to the Cubs in the Craig Kimbrel deal after he had shown a lot of promise on the South Side, but ever since his move to the Cubs, Madrigal hasn't quite been as productive.
This past season, Madrigal set a new career-high with 92 games played but slashed .263/.311/.352 with two home runs and 28 RBI. He's never had power, but Madrigal didn't get on base nearly enough for a guy who doesn't hit home runs. Yes, he rarely strikes out, has a bit of speed, and plays solid defense, but the lack of power combined with his subpar on-base ability in 2023 made him a relatively useless player.
If the Cubs want to win in 2024, he can't be counted on as a regular. Sure, he's fine as a backup, but the only other position he plays is second base, a spot locked down by Nico Hoerner. Wisdom can at the very least help the Cubs at another weak spot, first base, while providing some pop. His strikeouts are annoying, as is his inability to get on base a lot, but his OPS was over 100 points higher than Madrigal's in 2023. It really comes down to that. One of them should be replaced, and Madrigal was not as good as Wisdom.2023-12-09T23:10:12Z dg43tfdfdgfd