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Should the Cubs trade Christopher Morel?

There are a lot of factors involved.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Christopher Morel is a popular player with the Cubs fanbase. He hits for power, was responsible for one of the more exciting walkoff homers in recent years, and his infectious enthusiasm and smile has made him a fan favorite.

Morel hit .247/.313/.508 (96-for-388) with 26 home runs in 107 games for the Cubs in 2023. That’s really good! He also struck out 133 times, which is not good at all.

Morel doesn’t really have a defensive position he can play with the Cubs. He’d probably be adequate at second base, but the Cubs have a Gold Glove second baseman in Nico Hoerner locked up for at least three more years. Morel isn’t good at third base, and there was some talk he’d work there in winter ball. In fact, he’s played mostly shortstop in winter ball so far, though that’s just five starts.

So what to do with Morel? His best position appears to be designated hitter. He started 59 games there in 2023, more than any other Cub.

But if the Cubs somehow do sign Shohei Ohtani, that would leave Morel without a position, unless somehow his offseason work might make him viable at third base, or possibly first base. The Cubs could use a guy at the latter positions who could hit, but putting Morel there as of now would be a real defensive liability.

My feeling is that Morel shouldn’t be traded until and unless Ohtani is signed.

Here’s what MLB.com says about Morel’s possible trade value:

Morel’s Statcast numbers were impressive in 2023, when he ranked in the top 12 percent of players in xSLG, average exit velocity, barrel percentage and hard-hit percentage. But the 24-year-old was also among the worst hitters in the league in whiff percentage and strikeout rate, showing plenty of holes in his swing. Morel, who hit 26 homers in 107 games, is blocked at second base by Nico Hoerner, and the Cubs don’t seem to view him as an everyday third baseman. Chicago could give him a look at first base or DH, but given his raw power and the fact that he won’t be arbitration-eligible for two more seasons, Morel could be an intriguing trade chip for the Cubs.

If Morel is traded, what would his trade value be? To me, it wouldn’t seem to be much. Only six players played 100 or more games at DH in 2023:

Rk Player G Season Age Team Lg G
1 Joey Meneses 154 2023 31 WSN NL 154
2 Marcell Ozuna 144 2023 32 ATL NL 144
3 Jorge Soler 137 2023 31 MIA NL 137
4 Shohei Ohtani 135 2023 28 LAA AL 135
5 Eloy Jiménez 120 2023 26 CHW AL 120
6 J.D. Martinez 113 2023 35 LAD NL 113
Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 11/27/2023.

That’s a few guys in their 30s, a unicorn (Ohtani) and Eloy Jimenez. Morel doesn’t really fit in that puzzle, I wouldn’t think, though if the Cubs don’t sign Ohtani and keep Morel, DH is the only position that really fits him.

Could he be included in a larger deal? Would (say) Morel, Nick Madrigal and one of the Cubs’ young pitchers bring any value in return?

I’m opening the floor here for suggestions, as I don’t have anything specific in mind. Have at it.

Poll

Christopher Morel...

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    ... the Cubs should package him with other players to try to acquire MLB talent
    (369 votes)
  • 50%
    ... the Cubs should not trade him
    (391 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (21 votes)
781 votes total Vote Now