Christopher Morel Expected to Open the Season at Triple-A Iowa
It was one of the last remaining big questions on the positional side for the Cubs, and it sounds like it has been answered.
Christopher Morel will open the season at Triple-A Iowa:
Morel, 23, was pulled up last year straight from Double-A when there was a roster need, and he more than held his own for several months. Yes, there were struggles in the latter half of the season as the league adjusted, but I think he pretty clearly showed he has a big league future.
What the Cubs had to decide this spring was whether the value in having Morel available off the bench was higher/better/more important than the value he could provide long-term if there were a focus on his development. Having essentially skipped Triple-A, it’s not really that outrageous to see a 23-year-old head there to open this season, especially if you think there’s serious value there in the years ahead as a super-utility man (I think there is). He will play every day, and then we’ll see how things go.
I also suspect Morel will be back at some point this year, and probably for long stretches – it’s just kinda how it happens.
Miles Mastrobuoni, who can play the same spots Morel can and who bats lefty, gets the top utility nod to open the season. I don’t say this because I wanted Morel bumped, but I do like that Mastrobuoni is getting the shot. He raked last year at Triple-A for the Rays, raked in Spring Training, and generally looks like he deserves a chance to establish himself as a big league bench guy, at a minimum.
Unspoken in all this is what happens to the other lefty utility option on the roster: Zach McKinstry. After a rough start with the Cubs last year post-Trade Deadline acquisition, McKinstry had a really rough Spring Training. He’s out of minor league options, so he either makes the 26-man roster, or he hits waivers. The Cubs, at this point, might just see what happens on waivers with McKinstry, especially knowing that they’re going to need to open up at least one 40-man spot for Luis Torrens. That, unless they can sooner put together a minor trade. (INSTANT UPDATE: That’s exactly what’s happening. McKinstry is being traded to the Tigers for minor league righty Carlos Guzman.)