Nico Hoerner was a National League Gold Glove finalist at second base in 2020, and he has played similar exceptional defense this season at shortstop.
But with the Cubs having the financial resources to acquire a top-notch free-agent shortstop this winter, the possibility of Hoerner returning to second base hasn’t publicly been ruled out.
Manager David Ross apologized for using the analogy of buying a new car when you don’t need to, but he elaborated on Hoerner’s athleticism and unselfishness.
”We’ve got a really good shortstop here,” Ross said Sunday. ”If something works out where they identify a middle infielder that is of value that they feel fits very well, everybody is on board with that, including myself and Nico.
”Those are good problems to have. We’ll let the front office kind of pick and choose on that.”
Among the top soon-to-be-free-agent shortstops the Cubs could pursue are Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson and Carlos Correa (if he opts out of his contract with the Twins).
But Hoerner seized the starting shortstop job from the start of spring training and entered play Sunday batting .287 with an 86.8% contact rate and was a plus-12 in defensive runs saved, according to Fangraphs.
The elimination of shifts starting next season will put a premium on range, and Hoerner has played exceptionally well when positioned on the right side of second base.
Madrigal raises winter stakes
After suffering his latest groin injury, second baseman Nick Madrigal declared this winter will represent ”the biggest offseason I’ve had the last couple of years.”
”I’m going to be doing some major changes,” Madrigal said, two days after suffering a mildly strained right groin while running to first base Friday. ”Obviously, my body is out of whack right now. All these injuries popping up. I’ve been talking to some people that are going to help.”
Madrigal spoke last week with Blaine Kinsley, the Cubs’ strength-and-conditioning coach, and he plans to make changes in several areas, including nutrition and strength. Madrigal was batting .283 in 27 games after returning from a strained left groin that sidelined him for nearly two months.
Madrigal, who is on the 10-day injured list, wants to return this season but said he won’t know whether he can until early next week.
”Anytime I’m out there with the guys, I feel like I’ve got things to prove and want to prove,” Madrigal said. ”But I know there’s another side about being smart.”
This and that
Right-hander Albert Alzolay, making his fourth rehab start for Triple-A Iowa, struck out four but allowed a home run in 2? innings in an 11-9 loss at Jacksonville. Alzolay has spent the entire season on the IL because of a strained right shoulder.
o Infielder Matt Mervis hit his 11th home run for Iowa and his 32nd of the season.