Cubs 2023 spring training preview: infield


If there is one area of the diamond where the Cubs will look markedly different this season, it will be in their infield, as they could potentially have five starters, catcher included, that are different from what they regularly rolled out last season. 

The Cubs went on an offseason spending spree in multiple areas, capped off with the seven-year deal they signed with shortstop Dansby Swanson. His arrival will mean that Nico Hoerner will shift over to second base, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the changes fans can expect. 

As part of NBC Sports Chicago’s spring training preview series, we’re taking a look at the changes the Cubs made, and what fans can expect, at each position this season. 

Note: We’ve decided to lump the catcher position into the “infield” story for proximity reasons. 


After a torturous “will he leave or won’t he” season involving Willson Contreras, the team finally bid him adieu at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign, as he signed a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. 

In his place, the Cubs will rely on a two-headed monster behind the dish, retaining Yan Gomes and signing Tucker Barnhart to a two-year deal. 

Needless to say, the team won’t be expecting Contreras-level production out of that spot this season. Barnhart had one home run and drove in 16 RBIs in 94 games with the Detroit Tigers last season, batting .221. He’s a glove-first catcher that should help out the team’s pitching staff, but don’t expect a ton of offensive production. 
Gomes had a bit more pop, with eight home runs in 86 games with the Cubs last season, but it’s unclear how much run he will get as the team adopts a more defensive-centric mentality in its lineup construction. 


The Cubs did sign Luis Torrens to a minor-league deal to add some depth to the system, but the real wild card in all this is Miguel Amaya, the former top prospect that has dealt with a series of injuries the last two years, including undergoing Tommy John surgery and suffering a Lisfranc fracture before Arizona Fall League play last season.  

Still, he’s a heck of a hitter, and the team intends for him to catch in the minor leagues this season, so there is still a possibility that he could live up to the lofty expectations that were placed on him when he was a top-100 prospect in baseball. 

First Base  

The Cubs didn’t exactly strike gold in their first efforts to replace first baseman Anthony Rizzo, so they’ve completely thrown out the first draft and are hoping that this season’s entries will be more successful. 

The season will start with a platoon situation, with Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini both joining the team on short-term deals. 

Hosmer hit eight home runs and drove in 44 RBIs in 104 games last season, and batted .268 in stops with Boston and San Diego. The lefty had reverse splits last season, batting .324 against his fellow southpaws, so expect to see him get plenty of chances to hit against left-handed pitching. 

Mancini is certainly more of a power threat, having hit 18 home runs last season in 143 games, but the Cubs will need him to improve on a rough finish to the 2022 season, as he hit just .176 with 49 strikeouts in 165 at-bats for the Houston Astros. 

Of course, Cubs fans only care about the next big thing at first base, as Matt Mervis will start the season in the minor leagues. He smoked 36 home runs and drove in 119 RBIs last season across three different levels of the minors, and if he can continue to hit at that pace, there’s no question that he’ll be banging on the door for a big-league role at some point in the near future. 

Second Base 

With the addition of Swanson to the lineup, the Cubs will turn to Hoerner at second base, giving them one of the best defensive middle infields in the sport. 
Hoerner is no slouch at the plate either, with his penchant for contact hitting and his decent pop making him an intriguing candidate for the leadoff role in the lineup. 

The real interesting question is who will back him up at second, and the Cubs have a bunch of in-house candidates. Nick Madrigal is one such option, as he batted .249 in 59 games last season, but they would need his production levels to go up if he were to get regular playing time. 


The Cubs acquired Miles Mastrobuoni from the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason, and he could potentially be in the mix as a backup, as could David Bote, who technically isn’t on the 40-man roster but did receive an invite to spring training. 

Finally, Christopher Morel could move around the diamond, especially if he can hit the way that he did last season, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 47 RBIs while stealing 10 stolen bases in 379 at-bats. 


Swanson was part of a much-heralded class of free-agent shortstops, and the Cubs have brought him in to help add power, speed, and defense to their lineup. He hit 25 home runs and drove in 96 RBIs last season with the Atlanta Braves, and even though his RBI totals may take a dip if the Cubs struggle to get runners on base, his home run power should remain intact at Wrigley Field. 

Swanson also stole 18 bases while posting a .329 on-base percentage, making him an interesting option at No. 2 or 3 in the lineup. 

In all likelihood, Hoerner will just back up Swanson at shortstop if he needs a breather, but he’s played in 322 games over the last two seasons, so those breaks are fairly rare. 

Third Base  

The one position on the infield where there are still plenty of questions left to answer is at third base, with no definitive starter currently in the mix. 

Patrick Wisdom is certainly an option, with some of the best home run power on the team, but defensive questions could cause the Cubs to go in another direction, especially if he can’t cut back a bit on his strikeouts, having racked up 336 whiffs in the last two seasons. 

Morel will also likely get plenty of time at third base, but the Cubs will explore a few other options too, with Madrigal taking reps at third base in spring training. Zach McKinstry is a strong defender at the position, but his paltry .206 batting average in 155 at-bats last season represent a tough pill to swallow, especially with his relative lack of power at the plate. 

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