What Dansby Swanson’s addition to the Cubs means for Nick Madrigal.
Nico Hoerner, the club’s everyday shortstop in 2022, is going to shift to second base to accommodate Swanson in the infield. His job is going to be safe no matter what thanks to a breakout season last year.
But what about Patrick Wisdom, Christopher Morel, Zack McKinstry or even Nick Madrigal?
Wisdom, McKinstry, and Morel figure to bounce around at multiple positions but Madrigal, who has only ever played second base in his professional career, is suddenly without a home.
Cubs: Dansby Swanson is pushing Nick Madrigal to a whole new position
Per multiple reports, Madrigal is going to begin seeing time at third base for the very first time in his career. To this point, he has made just one non-second base appearance in the form of a start at shortstop in the minors a few years back.
Madrigal himself is fine with the move, saying that he’s ready for whatever the club throws at him and that he will continue preparing for the upcoming season under his normal routines.
Jed Hoyer, the Cubs’ general manager, pointed out to reporters that Madrigal is certainly not a stereotypical power-hitting third base option, but he’s not worried about the transition.
Unfortunately for Hoyer, he probably should be.
The reason Madrigal has stuck at second base throughout his career is because of his complete lack of a throwing arm. He fits the mold of a speedy, contact-oriented middle infielder, but his arm is not strong enough for shortstop, let alone third base.
As he came up through the minors, the 25-year-old was never known for his defensive abilities. Last year, he ranked in the 14th percentile in Arm Strength per Baseball Savant. The year before, he was in the 20th percentile. The year before that? The 22nd percentile.
Madrigal is in no way a third-baseman. This is going to be an experiment that the Cubs quickly find out was never meant to be. At this point, his value may be best used as trade bait rather than forcing him to learn a position that he is not capable of playing.