Jed Hoyer has spoken more than once about finding a more regular spot in the field for Christopher Morel, with previous conversations focusing on third base. That’s an obvious choice because of his athleticism and strong arm, but footwork and throwing accuracy have been problems in his limited action at the hot corner so far. While many figured Morel would be honing his skills there this offseason, the Cubs actually want him to try the other side of the diamond.
“It’s an ongoing conversation, but we’ve talked a lot about finding him a home and I do think we wanna give him some work at first and see how he reacts to that,” Jed Hoyer told reporters in Phoenix. “Finding a home for him is something that would be really valuable.”
That last word is really interesting because it cuts in two different directions. Having Morel establish himself as an everyday player or at least someone who can get more regular time in the field would open things up when it comes to offseason acquisitions. There’s also the idea that becoming a passable first baseman would be almost like adding a new player at zero cost. If he’s just a DH, the roster gets a little narrower.
The other idea here is that simply setting up the possibility that he might be able to play first expands Morel’s versatility and makes him a more coveted option on the trade market. Perhaps to a team like the Padres, who need a first baseman and have reportedly shown interest in Morel as they seek to offload salary and increase club control.
Other teams have been inquiring about him as well, so this isn’t necessarily a matter of trying to impress one potential suitor. Hell, it might not have anything to do with how anyone else views Morel. But if this first base thing is legit, it could indicate that the Cubs are intent on moving in a different direction at third and that they’re not confident in Cody Bellinger‘s return.
Those aren’t novel concepts, of course, but this little nugget might be a harbinger of things to come over the winter.
Update: Morel was in the lineup for Águilas Cibaeñas Friday night in Dominican Winter League action and, sure enough, he was playing…third base. Alexander Canario was in right and old friend Starlin Castro was the DH, if you’re into such things. But it’s a least the slightest bit odd that Morel wasn’t playing first, isn’t it? I mean, the Cubs can’t really control what another team does with lineups, so maybe Morel is simply working at first on his own.
At the very least, I’m intrigued by the idea that this is happening while the Padres are flailing in vain to find any additional leverage in their inevitable attempt to trade Soto for the biggest possible haul.