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Jed Hoyer hopeful someone will take Cubs second base job and run with it

1 year agoAndy Martinez

In many ways, Jed Hoyer sees the Cubs situation at second base similar to how their situation was in center field the past few seasons: deep with options.

Like the scenario in center, though, Hoyer hopes a strong performance by one of the various players competing for the spot will make the decision of who the everyday player is for the Cubs.

“Ian Happ, finally last year, was able to grab that [center field] job away from Albert [Almora Jr.] and won it,” Hoyer said. “I think we all want someone to kinda grab hold of it and kinda force their name in the lineup every day.”

There’s plenty of names that can take the role and run with it. The two frontrunners would appear to be David Bote and Nico Hoerner, though.

Hoerner was one of the Cubs’ top prospects and debuted with the club in 2019 after Javy Báez’ injury forced the Oakland native to bypass Triple-A. Hoerner then split time at second with Jason Kipnis, who the Cubs signed ahead of spring training in 2020. Hoerner, though strong defensively, was inconsistent at the plate, amassing a .222/.312/.259 slash line with 13 RBI in the shortened season.

“I think, obviously, Nico, he didn’t have the offensive season that he would have wanted, I thought his defense was excellent,” Hoyer said.

Still, Hoerner, 23, is young enough and versatile enough where the Cubs aren’t too concerned with those numbers, especially in the strange season that was 2020.

“He’s a guy that, the way he plays the game is outstanding,” Hoyer said. “I think the coaches love having him in there for a lot of reasons.”

Bote has primarily played third base in his career, filling in for Kris Bryant when he has been out of the lineup. But Bote has proven to have versatility to play across the infield and in the outfield in a pinch. Bote has played 70 games at second base in his career, including 7 in 2020.

Offensively, Bote has come up clutch for the Cubs time and again and his career .753 OPS is nothing to scoff at.

Other options the Cubs have include recently acquired Sergio Alcántara and Ildemaro Vargas, who the club acquired midway through the 2020 season. Both players are known for their defense and are switch hitters. Vargas had a strong offensive winter, slashing .309/.394/.345 in 127 plate appearances for the Cardinales de Lara who finished as runners-up in the Venezuelan Winter League.

There’s plenty of options at second for the Cubs, but Hoyer hopes that come Opening Day, someone will take the reins and lock down the second base position. If it turns out like Happ with the center field job, it could benefit the Cubs as they attempt to repeat as NL Central champions in 2021.

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