Cubs Rumors: Team viewed as ‘wild card’ factor in loaded free agent class

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

For all the recent talk coming from the Chicago Cubs about ‘spending intelligently’, there’s a corresponding report that can give us all at least a little bit of hope when it comes to the upcoming offseason and the possibility the team pursues some of the premier free agents.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required), Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins are doing their homework on this winter’s star-studded crop of free agent shortstops – a group that includes Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story and familiar face Javier Baez.

It’s a safe bet that both Correa and Seager are going to be eyeing deals in excess of $300 million after Francisco Lindor set the market with his deal with the New York Mets last year. It’s hard to envision Chicago jumping in at that price, but as we’ve said before, given their relative ages, either could be a long-term fit for the club.

Of course, with Houston and Los Angeles looking to return to the World Series, Correa and Seager both bring immense postseason experience to the table, as well. Neither are strangers to big moments and have produced in some insanely high-pressure moments in recent years.

But even the addition of someone the caliber of those two, the Cubs still face an uphill battle when it comes to competing in 2022. The rotation is in shambles and you can safely assume that’s where Chicago dedicates its resources this winter. That’s not to say they won’t keep an eye on this class of shortstops, because they surely will. But the competition will be fierce and it’s hard to see Hoyer and Hawkins overpaying and handcuffing themselves in the same way the Jason Heyward contract has. 

Chicago Cubs seem far likelier to play in the middle-tier class of free agents

That’s not to say they won’t look to add middle infield depth. But it’s far more likely they explore a reunion with Baez (or someone in that $100M+ price tier) rather than shell out three times that amount when the roster has as many holes as it does.

As things currently stand, Nick Madrigal will be the team’s starting second baseman next spring. After missing most of the 2021 campaign with a torn hamstring, the former first-rounder will undoubtedly be looking to make a strong first impression on the North Side. Nico Hoerner, a former Gold Glove finalist at second base, could slide over to short – but the team isn’t betting on him being healthy over the course of a full season, either.

Despite what you might think, there are some alternatives set to hit free agency outside of the big names. Andrelton Simmons, Josh Harrison and Chris Taylor are just a few names that could be on the Cubs’ radar – none of whom should break the bank.

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For now, though, at least we know Chicago is doing its due diligence when it comes to this winter’s historic free agent class of shortstops. I still don’t think it should get anyone too excited – but there’s always that muted hope we all carry heading into the offseason.