With loads of free company discuss this week – Cubs on Turner and Rodon? Top free agent tiers? Cubs will pursue Senga? David Ross would not thoughts one other prime shortstop? – I used to be naturally considering extra about the causes I strongly endorse numerous pursuits for the Cubs at this second in time, with an influence beginning pitcher and one of the prime shortstops amongst them.
Since I used to be in that kinda mode, whereas we additionally speak about the new guidelines coming to MLB subsequent 12 months, one thing vital occurred to me about these free agent pursuits: it is not simply that the excessive shift is banned subsequent 12 months, it is that your “shortstop ” has to keep on the left aspect of the infield for the recreation, and your “second baseman” has to keep on the proper aspect of the infield for the recreation. You cannot swap them round throughout the recreation until somebody truly leaves the recreation.
That particular shift rule requirement was talked about when these had been authorised, however I believe I used to be sleeping on the influence that might have on free company, and the Cubs’ particular scenario.
In a world the place you aren’t solely shift-restricted, however you ALSO cannot mess around together with your infield positions up the center relying on the batter, it’s *all the extra priceless* to have a very elite infield defender at each shortstop and second base. In the excessive shift world, it was very simple to conceal a mediocre defender at second base since you may shift your shortstop over into the most-likely-to-see-a-grounder spot towards a lefty. That is clearly now gone, as two gamers have to keep on the infield grime on either side of second base.
But even in that world, when you had just one elite defender up the center, you can nonetheless cowl over some deficiencies by (1) enjoying that man up the center when crucial, *OR* (2) transferring – for instance – your stud shortstop over to the conventional second base spot once you’ve acquired a pull-heavy, hard-hitting, groundball machine lefty at the plate. You can think about the fixed motion on the market, proper?
OK, however that may’t occur. Because, once more, the rule contemplated it, and explicitly prohibits that sort of in-game maneuvering. Your shortstop is your shortstop, and your second baseman is your second baseman, interval.
So, then, all groups are going to be incentivized now to have slightly extra defensive skill at these spots.
For the Cubs, their choices is likely to be Nico Hoerner at shortstop (in all probability fairly darn good, although in a shift-restricted world, he will not be elite) and a merely succesful defender at second base; or a prime shortstop defender in free company, after which a very elite second baseman in Nico Hoerner. In a system the place nice protection at second base takes a step up in worth, that second possibility turns into a lot more enticing. (And it is not like Hoerner could not/would not nonetheless fill in at shortstop for some video games.)
This does not imply the Cubs *HAVE* to land the greatest shortstop glove they’ll, though it does give an affordable increase to the non-Xander Bogaerts shortstops, since he might finally have to transfer to third base.
But not each group has a Nico Hoerner accessible to give them that vast defensive increase at second base, beneath the new system, in the event that they add an excellent defensive shortstop. So, then, my level is that this: it already made sense for the Cubs to need to add one of these prime free agent shortstops (they want the influence bat, and that is the place it occurs to be concentrated this 12 months in free company; and so they have the skill to transfer guys round to accommodate), however with these shift restrictions in place, the Cubs is likely to be able to see a barely disproportionate worth increase from including, say, Carlos Correa at shortstop and transferring Nico Hoerner to second base.