Chicago Cubs Third Base Options

Cubs Third Base
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The Chicago Cubs Third Base Options

The Chicago Cubs‘ third base options feature a whole host of choices for the upcoming season, and that could be a good thing. The Cubs have used spring training to figure out how the competition stacks up for a starter, and possible platoon options as well as backup(s).

Good to Have

For the first time in a long time, the Cubs have depth at several positions including third base. That depth is good to have. The team has a lot of guys they can put at third, all of which could do a good job with both hitting and fielding. This allows the team to take time to watch the competing player, and get the best fit(s) to move the team forward.

Playing third base takes a firm understanding of the double play ball, and relay positioning. It also takes top notch defensive skills. While their top five candidates for the position are not Gold Glove winners, all have the potential to be above average at fielding the position.

Many to Choose From

The Cubs’ third base options include Nick Madrigal, Zach McKinstry, Christopher Morel, Edwin Rios, and Patrick Wisdom. All are getting time there during spring training, and all have the potential to help this Cubs team retool and find a way to get back into the playoffs.

Nick Madrigal is moving from second base, where he has played since arriving to the big leagues in 2020. With the Cubs signing Gold Glove shortstop Dansby Swanson to a seven-year deal in the offseason, last year’s shortstop, Nico Hoerner, will make the permanent move to second base. That pushes Madrigal into a competition for time at third base. The Cubs are hoping he can transition smoothly, and are expecting big offensive numbers from him. However, injuries hampered him last year, and he made three trips to the IL. If he wants to win the job, he has to remain healthy.

Zach McKinstry can play both second and shortstop, as well as the outfield. The Cubs might see him as a utility player with an occasional start if he makes the team. A decision on him must be made, as he is out of minor league options and must stay on the active roster or be taken off the 40-man roster entirely.

Christopher Morel played second base and the outfield, and they might want his offensive power in the lineup. In 435 plate appearances last year, he hit 16 home runs and 19 doubles. They will look at him to see if he can be a super-utility player. However, there are options with Morel, allowing him to be sent down to the minors.

Others Considered

Others considered are Edwin Rios, who has the potential to be a real left-handed power bat. In 2019, he hit 31 home runs and drove in 91 runs over 104 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The biggest concern for him is his lack of walks and his strikeouts. But with a legitimate chance to earn a full-time spot, there is hope that Rios can turn that around, reducing the number of strikeouts and increasing his walks. If he performs well the rest of spring training, Rios could be a platoon option with any of the others, giving this team a much-needed left-handed bat.

Patrick Wisdom might have been an option for first base, but with the signings of Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini, that pushed him to just an occasional first base start. He has plenty of experience at third base, playing in 199 games in his career. The last two years he has combined for 53 home runs and 41 doubles in 239 games, so he could provide offensive power. However, the concern for Wisdom is his batting average, which is just .217 overall.

What Kind of Team

The Chicago Cubs third base options will be decided at the end of spring training. Now, what kind of team will they be? They will not catch the St Louis Cardinals or Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central. Even so, adding both Mancini and Swanson in free agency should keep the lineup competitive. Tucker Barnhart and Yan Gomes will be handling the pitching staff from behind the plate. They are hoping Cody Bellinger, and Hosmer can regain their past forms. A Wild Card berth is possible for this team.

The depth of talent competing at third only adds to that possibility. It gives Cubs options to choose someone who complements the team not only with physical play. It also gives them someone whose personality meshes with the team.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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