Morel and the Development Conundrum, Bench Jobs, Walker Makes the Cardinals, Minor Leaguers Released, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Morel and the Development Conundrum, Bench Jobs, Walker Makes the Cardinals, Minor Leaguers Released, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

We lost power for about five afternoon hours yesterday, and cell data in our area wasn’t working either, so I just want to say that The Wife and I deserve a parenting medal. That is all.

  • Christopher Morel has to be making for a really tough roster decision for the Cubs. On the one hand, you know the upside is that of an above-average bat who can play all over, and that’s a super valuable player. On the other hand, you wonder if you can better max out his development to GET to that upside if he spends some time starting every day at Iowa. So, you want this guy on your big league team … but you also want to do the best for his development, because he could be worth a LOT to you in the years ahead. I usually have a pretty strong stance on this kind of decision, but I really keep going back and forth on Morel. I suspect the Cubs do, too:
  • It probably doesn’t help that Zach McKinstry, who is out of options, has put together such a dreadful spring. The Cubs almost certainly wanted to default to keeping McKinstry as their top utility bench guy, because of the lack of minor league options (you keep him on the 26-man to open the season, option others, and then you get to keep everyone in the org). But McKinstry, who never quite put it together with the Cubs last year either, has almost certainly been upstaged by Miles Mastrobuoni, who looks like the better guy to keep if you want a lefty bat. If you don’t care about handedness in that top utility role, then you could go with Morel. Or you could keep both up, as long as you think there are enough starts to go around, because I really like both Morel and Mastrobuoni.
  • FURTHER complicating this set of decisions is the fact that Nick Madrigal also hasn’t done much to compel you at the plate this spring. Not to hang too much on spring numbers, obviously, but when you’re talking about edge cases and hard decision, you do have to pay at least some attention. I know there’s likely to be some awkwardness there, but every time I try to figure out who stays on the roster and who plays where, I keep coming back to the idea that Madrigal to Triple-A (where he has spent precious little time!) opens up the right opportunities on the big league roster for the Cubs (especially for Edwin Rios, whom I definitely want on the big league roster).
  • To go about it another way: we know that the bench will consist of four players, after slotting someone in as “the DH” for these purposes. Let’s say that guy is Rios, let’s say third base is Patrick Wisdom, and let’s say right field – initially, and again, just for counting purposes – is Trey Mancini. One of those four bench spots is the back-up catcher. That leaves you three spots for the Madrigal, McKinstry, Mastrobuoni, Morel, Tauchman, DeLuzio, Torrens group, knowing that someone likely gets bumped pretty early on when Seiya Suzuki returns. The latter three would require a 40-man spot, so that’s a consideration. McKinstry, as I said, is out of options, so that’s a consideration.
  • Arizona Phil reports that minor league outfielder Yonathan Perlaza had to leave a minor league spring training game after crashing into the wall trying to make a catch. Phil says it was a left shoulder injury. Hopefully it’s not serious.
  • It begins. Get ready to hate this guy for the next 15 years (you know, because he’ll sign a team-friendly extension after a couple years):
  • Walker, who is just 20 and played last season at Double-A, is an absolute monster at the plate. His presence in that lineup is going to induce nightmares for years to come.
  • That feeling will be compounded by the fact that the Cardinals got Walker at pick 21 in the 2020 draft, five picks after the Cubs took Ed Howard, who may not ultimately become a big league player, much less a star like Walker projects to be. My caveats there are that (1) it’s too early to actually make conclusions about what those two players will be, and (2) a whole lotta teams made the mistake of passing on Walker before the Cardinals got him. So I get that it’s unfair to make this all about Cardinals v. Cubs, Walker v. Howard. But it’ll nevertheless be impossible not to think of it from time to time, especially if Walker does become the superstar he projects to be. And none of those other 19 teams that missed on Walker are the Cardinals’ chief rival. So.
  • If Walker finishes in the top three of Rookie of the Year voting, he’ll also now net the Cardinals an extra draft pick.
  • SUPER fun fact: because he didn’t make enough of the top 100 prospect lists, Hayden Wesneski finishing in the top three of Rookie of the Year voting would not qualify the Cubs for an extra draft pick, despite him being on the Opening Day roster.
  • Some of the minor league releases are starting (as guys get moved around camp, and plans are made for the minor league rosters, some guys get squeezed out):
  • A bummer there about Trey Lang, who you might remember was the former Cubs prospect who was trying to make a comeback after almost nine years away from the organization. That was, of course, a long-shot, but would’ve been fun to see it work out.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.