Cubs’ Christopher Morel, the ‘One-Man Bench,’ Key to Future – NBC Chicago

The ‘one-man bench’ that is key to the Cubs’ future originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

As the Cubs enter this new era and look to build their next great team, Christopher Morel’s versatility seems to be extremely valuable for their future.

“You feel like it’s a one-man bench,” manager David Ross said of the versatile Morel ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Red Sox.

Morel, who signed with the Cubs as a shortstop from the Dominican Republic in 2015, brought the versatility he showed in the minor leagues to the majors. He has already played four positions with the Cubs.

Friday was his ninth start of the season at second base. He also played three games at third and two at shortstop, in addition to his 30 in center field.

Ross even expressed confidence that Morel could handle more.

“You can move him – second, short, third, center, either corner of the outfield,” Ross said.

It’s not just that Morel can move around the diamond. The sight test tells you that he plays all four positions adequately, if not well, especially since he has an arm cannon.

Wednesday against the Reds, Morel threw Tommy Pham home after catching a line drive into relatively deep center field.

On Friday, he helped convert a 5-4-3 double play on a third pitch that backed Patrick Wisdom to the foul line near the outfield grass.

He then moved to center after Nico Hoerner hit and stayed at shortstop, moving Andrelton Simmons to second.

Having versatile players is obviously valuable in today’s game, and it’s a growing trend as teams have more pitchers on their rosters than in previous years, leaving fewer bench spots.

This makes players like Morel a necessity.

“Being able to move guys around, that flexibility is extremely valuable,” Ross said. “The fact [Morel has] been really clean on the indoor court so far with the limited looks we have, it’s fun for me to be able to mix and match as best we can.

“That, going forward, as we know, is really valuable in today’s game.”

Perhaps at some point Morel will settle into one position as other players emerge from the Cubs’ farm system. Before being a Gold Glove shortstop, Javy Báez moved into the infield to start his career as he was a solid defender in many places.

Morel, who hit a game-tying two-run home run on Friday, holds a .282/.340/.506 slant line with eight home runs in 41 games this season.

As long as he hits, he’ll have a spot on the Cubs’ major league roster.

Maybe a mobile home.

“In my eyes, the value is its flexibility,” Ross said.

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