The lead-up to the CBA expiration and highly likely lockout has been a tough one for Chicago Cubs fans to swallow. Just this week, we’ve seen large swathes of top free agents come off the board all while Jed Hoyer just twiddled his thumbs. Javy Baez? Gone. Jon Gray? Poof. Kevin Gausman? Nope.
Yet, there is a very faint glimmer of hope if you squint hard enough at the free agency landscape. With the Tigers taking Baez and the Rangers grabbing both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, Ken Rosenthal pointed out (subscription required) that, among competitors, there aren’t any clear-cut landing spots left for a big free agent shortstop. Sound the alarms folks, it’s wild speculation time.
Two big-name shortstops remain on the market in Carlos Correa and Trevor Story. Neither is likely to sign before the CBA now since it’d be difficult to complete physicals in time before the lockout, so it’ll be some time before we hear more on them. Both lost their likeliest free agency destinations. Both would be great fits on the Cubs and, with regards to Correa, Rosenthal seems to agree.
In the article, he specifically brings up the Nationals and Cubs as rebuilding teams that could reel in Correa as a foundation for their next team. There’s good reason to this too, as the Yankees, who were previously seen as favorites for Seager, now seem indifferent to the high-end shortstop market. Ditto the Dodgers who’ve shown far more interest in Freddie Freeman.
There are other teams out there that could make a run, but each comes with its own issues, whether it be an incumbent shortstop that they’d like to keep or greater needs. Then there’s the Cubs, who should have the money, the space, and the interest to bring him in. Moreover, with a rather paltry offseason following the 2022 season, they might be compelled to add now.
Chicago Cubs: Odds better with big spenders out on Carlos Correa, Trevor Story
This is a golden opportunity if it remains true through the rest of the offseason. If the Cubs would be willing to commit that much for one of Correa or Story (and that is a big if!) they would be facing a depressed market devoid of big spenders driving bidding. Without one real shortstop-needy contender there to fight tooth and nail, that price is going to drop, hopefully to a level where Hoyer deems it intelligent to swoop in.
Correa is obviously the dream but Story has enough upside that if his price dropped enough, the Cubs should definitely consider him. Story seemed early on like a free agent that would be undervalued enough due to a lackluster 2021 and the Coors effect that he could fall to the Cubs’ level. Poor road performance aside, there’s plenty of reason to like him as he’s averaged around 5 WAR per year factoring in a shortened 2020 and rookie campaign.
Add into all of this that Jesse Rogers said Correa’s open to a rebuild and it’s enough to dream. The chance is still minuscule, but it feels far more hopeful than a day or two ago. All of this waiting still might end in an elite shortstop. Probably not, but it’s something.