Christopher Morel

Craig Counsell boasts Christopher Morel amid debunked trade rumors

The Cubs manager says Morel has "earned his way into the lineup"

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During the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, reports surfaced about Christopher Morel's name being brought up in trade talks for Rays starter Tyler Glasnow.

Those rumors were quickly debunked. Newly minted Cubs manager Craig Counsell took to defending Morel's production following the rumors.

"He's put himself in a position where he needs to be in the lineup," Counsell said at the Winter Meetings. "He needs to be on the field. That's a good thing. Now, where? That's what we have to figure out.

"I think to sit here on Dec. 3 and say we've gotta have it figured out? Or, that he might be a versatile piece? Like, yeah. I think he's earned his way into a lineup there's no question about that."

Morel, 24, acted as one of the team's main sources of power last season. He hit 26 home runs in just 388 at-bats last season. Behind Seiya Suzuki, Morel led the team in OPS last season (.821).

If the team parted ways with Morel, they'd have a considerable gap to close in terms of power. Cody Bellinger is also a free agent this offseason. He hit 26 home runs and knocked in 97 runs with the Cubs last season.

Trading Morel for Glasnow would force the Cubs to bet solely on the latter's health. Glasnow pitched the most innings he's ever thrown in a single season last year, topping out at a lowly 120 frames. When he's healthy, he's impeccable. He struck out 162 batters in those 120 innings last season. But again, health is a concern.

What's more, the Cubs have Morel under club control for a whopping five seasons to come. To throw that all away for Glasnow, who is slated to make $25 million in 2024 before becoming a free agent the next offseason, doesn't seem like a strong decision for the Cubs.

The only part the Cubs need to figure out about Morel, as Counsell noticed, is where to place him on defense. The Cubs will likely come out of the MLB offseason with some strong, new players. That's where maneuvering Morel into the lineup will face its greatest challenge.

But Counsell notes players like Morel are invaluable to a major league roster, nonetheless.

"The players that have defensive versatility are incredibly valuable players."

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