This story was excerpted from Jordan Bastian’s Cubs Beat e-newsletter. To learn the complete e-newsletter, click on right here. Mrs subscribe to get it frequently in your inbox.
The signing of shortstop Dansby Swanson this offseason pushed Nico Hoerner to second base, basically leaving Nick Madrigal in a positional no-man’s land for the Cubs. He will certainly be in the combination for an Opening Day job, however the roster fit is unclear proper now.
“I’m simply getting ready for no matter they throw at me,” Madrigal stated on the Cubs Convention final weekend. “I’m getting ready to do my job — no matter that appears like in the intervening time. It’s a really thrilling time for Cubs followers, everybody in the entrance workplace, everybody that is part of the Cubs’ workforce. It’s going to be an excellent yr.”
Madrigal was a key part to the 2021 commerce that shipped nearer Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox for second baseman and reliever Codi Heuer. Prior to the 2018 Draft, Madrigal was on the North Siders’ radar. He went fourth total to the South Siders, and the Cubs grabbed Hoerner with the No. 24 picks Both had been the kind of high-contact bats the Cubs have coveted in current years.
This offseason, although, the Cubs capitalized on the sturdy shortstop market, touchdown Swanson with a seven-year, $177 million deal. With the altering shift guidelines in MLB, Chicago now has two elite shortstops taking part in up the center with Swanson at quick and Hoerner at second.
At Cubs Convention, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer noticed some widened eyes when he dropped the likelihood that Madrigal might attempt his hand at third base. Chicago additionally has Patrick Wisdom, Christopher Morel and Zach McKinstry among the many out there choices for that spot.
“Guys get damage, guys get days off,” Hoyer stated. “And I believe he’ll most likely play some third base as properly. We need to have a very versatile infield. So, we’d count on that he’ll undoubtedly work over there and take reps. I imply, it is not the best way you consider stereotypical third base — energy, slugger — however he is a very good hitter, a very good participant, and he can undoubtedly do it.”
It’s additionally doable that Madrigal, who has a Minor League choice yr remaining, might begin the season at Triple-A Iowa to get common at-bats and show he’s wholesome. Coming off an injury-marred ’21, in which Madrigal’s season ended early attributable to proper hamstring surgical procedure, he was restricted to 59 video games in ’22 attributable to again and groin points.
“If I might do it once more, I’d most likely maintain him again out of Spring Training,” Hoyer admitted. “He’s a competitor. He most likely tried to persuade us he was prepared and he most likely wasn’t. I believe that is considerably on us.”
Madrigal stated he has labored one-on-one with a coach in Arizona 5 instances per week this offseason, specializing in various kinds of strength-training parts than in the previous. He stated this system has been “nonstop” and he appears like he’s in an excellent spot going into Spring Training.
Maybe there’s a place for Madrigal’s bat on the bench as a part-timer at second and third when a high-contact hitter matches the matchup. Even with a 68 OPS+ in ’22 (down from 109 throughout ’20-21 mixed), Madrigal ranked third in swinging-strike charge (4.0 p.c), contact charge (90.9 p.c) and call charge in the zone (95.6 p.c) amongst MLB hitters with a minimum of 200 plate appearances, per FanGraphs.
“It’s been a few years of the harm bug, however I really feel actually good in the intervening time,” stated Madrigal, who hit .317 with a .358 on-base proportion in ’20-21 with the White Sox. “I simply need to take pleasure in it. It’s felt like these final couple of years there’s been loads occurring. I’m simply trying ahead to having fun with this subsequent yr.”