Mailbag Monday: Madrigal's Defense, Kane and Toews Value, Justin Fields Concerns? More

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Mailbag Monday: Madrigal’s Defense, Kane and Toews Value, Justin Fields Concerns? More

Chicago Bears

Happy Monday, everyone! We’ve got Bears-Vikings on Monday Night Football and the Bulls-Rockets on the Chicago sports slate tonight. Not too shabby for a Monday evening in late December.

This week, the first week I’m doing this weekly mailbag, we’ve got a trio of questions to unpack and answer. But first, I want to point out that this is an all-Chicago mailbag. Hit me with your questions about any of the teams we cover here at BN, and if you’ve got an out-of-town question that has some parallels or implications on the teams we cover here, I’ll answer that too. You can submit questions via Disqus, email, or Twitter (info and links at the end)!

In regards to Nick Madrigal’s defense, how would you grade him? Average (50-grade)? Below average? Or 55 to 60-grade? However, you see his D. Do you think he could be a little bit better with more reps in the next couple of years, even if you evaluate him now as a 40-grade defender? — CubfanPaul, Indy (via Email)

When the White Sox drafted Nick Madrigal in 2018, he was a potential Gold Glove Award candidate one day. And he even looked the part in the minors, making just four errors in 942.1 defensive innings at second base across three affiliate levels (Advanced-A through Triple-A).

However, Madrigal matched that total with four errors in just 29 games during his abbreviated 2020 season. A season in which he missed a large chunk of time with a separated left shoulder that was surgically repaired this past offseason. 2021 wasn’t much better, with Madrigal making five errors in 53 games before going down for the season with a torn hamstring. Looking beyond the traditional stats, Madrigal posted a -4.2 UZR-150 in 2020 but improved vastly in 2021 with a 1.3 UZR-150 before the injury ended his season in June. 

Will Nick Madrigal ever be a Gold Glove Award contender at second base? Probably not. But he’s not a bad defender despite a horrid initial showing in 2020, where even the simplest of plays sometimes gave him fits. The defense has improved enough from year one to year two to show that he can be a league-average or better defender at second base with continued development. I would give Madrigal a 50-grade on his fielding tool today, with room for improvement with consistent reps. It’ll be nice to see him get an entire season under his belt.

I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but what would the trade value look like for Toews and Kane? Would they trade either one of them now to get some value and then resign them later? — @AndrewPajak (via Twitter)

I would imagine that there would be plenty of takers if the Blackhawks were taking calls on Patrick Kane, but it wouldn’t be relatively as easy to move Jonathan Toews at his current cap hit and production level.

If the Blackhawks decided to blow it up and trade anyone and everyone, Patrick Kane would net them a monster return. Look at the Jack Eichel return and think higher even, maybe. The Sabres got four high-quality assets in the deal, including a first-rounder. Kane is better than Eichel and not coming to a prospective buyer with the need for neck surgery. Still, Kane would be a rental if they traded him, presumably to a contender at some point next season, which would slightly soften the return value.

The bottom line with Kane is; A) the return would be a solid start to a full-blown rebuild, but B) I highly (HIGHLY) doubt that a Patrick Kane trade is ever even a real thought in Chicago.

As for Toews, I honestly don’t see much value at his current cap hit and production level. If they trade him, it won’t be for much more than accommodating him in sending him somewhere where he would like to finish his career.

Are you starting to worry about Justin Fields yet? Should the Bears have given him more time to develop, especially with the lack of talent around him? — Marc, Dunning (via Email)

The short answer here is “No.” Would I have liked to see Fields have a Justin Herbert-like rookie season? Duh. Would I have been happy to see Fields have a Mac Jones-like rookie season? Yeah, I’d take it. The problem with both hypotheticals is that Fields probably isn’t as good as Herbert, and the Bears didn’t provide him with the infrastructure Jones received in New England.

Justin Fields has had to navigate his way through an absolute circus this season, and despite the numbers not being anywhere close to where we would have wanted them to be in a perfect world, they’ve gotten better throughout the year. Check this out:

It’s important to remember that development isn’t always linear. There was indeed development for Fields this season, despite it not being as drastic or immediate as we hoped for.

One thing I’m tired of hearing though is that playing Fields this season was somehow detrimental to his development because he didn’t get to sit and watch as Matt Nagy allegedly hoped he would. The harsh truth in this is that some quarterbacks that teams are good, but most are not. Sure, some reach their potential later than others, but when a quarterback starts playing has hardly anything to do with what he’ll look like as a finished product.

Is Justin Fields good? The jury is still out on that, but I’m not worried about the verdict being adverse at this point.

Want to be included in next week’s Mailbag Monday? You can submit questions in three ways:

  1. In the Disqus section of this post.
  2. Via Email ([email protected])
  3. On Twitter (@PatrickKFlowers)

Talk soon!

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.