2 Cubs beat writers pour cold water on the idea of Carlos Correa

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

Look, when it comes to Cubs beat writers, Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney at The Athletic are among the very best. So when they both sound off on the team’s need at shortstop and weigh in on who they believe are among the likely external candidates for the role, we should probably listen.

In the latest Cubs Q&A, the two fielded questions from readers and, when asked about the shortstop position, the same two names came up – and neither were Carlos Correa. Instead, the combination of Jonathan Villar and Jose Iglesias came up.

Now, neither bring the star-studded power of Correa – nor do they cost $330+ million. Correa was always a long-shot and once he joined Boras, it was almost as if the thousands of voices cried out and were suddenly silenced. Jed Hoyer just got a clean slate in terms of payroll, so it’s not hard to see why he’d be hesitant to throw a decade-long contract right back on the books, regardless of the fit on paper.

We know the team is going to be keen on solidifying the middle infield defense. With the concerns over the health of Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal as both return from injury, adding depth is a must. Iglesias has been one of the better defenders in the game for much of the last decade, so here’s to hoping his 2021 defensive numbers are a fluke and not the sign of him hitting a wall in Looney Tunes fashion as he ventures further into his 30s.

Chicago Cubs: Jose Iglesias, Jonathan Villar are where we should set our sights

With the bat, he’s pretty mediocre – checking in with an 88 OPS+ in his career. Last season, he batted just .271/.309/.391 – although it’s worth noting he got hot after signing late in the year Boston and hung a .915 OPS in 64 plate appearances with the Red Sox.

Villar, at least in my mind, has a little more to offer. If you’re good with Hoerner and Madrigal as your starters and you want just some defensive insurance, then, sure, go sign Iglesias. If you want a guy to potentially take over at one of these positions so you can deploy Hoerner all over the diamond, then I’m probably looking for someone with a little more pop.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old Villar definitely brings more of an offensive track record to the equation – although he, too, is far from a juggernaut at the plate. He’s going to be at league average, maybe slightly above, but he runs decently well (ranked in the 57th percentile in sprint speed, per Statcast) and is comfortable at multiple infield positions.

It wasn’t that long ago, he had the best offensive season of his career in Baltimore. He set a career-high with 24 home runs, swiped 40 bases and appeared in all 162 games of that 2019 season for the O’s. But since the start of the 2020 season, he’s fallen off at the plate, batting just .244/.316/.380. He’s young enough that he could still bounce back, but the last two years haven’t been his best.

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We’ll see what Chicago winds up doing after the lockout, but it seems safe to assume Hoyer is going to add someone like Iglesias or Villar and then stockpile some arms in the bullpen – where they’re almost completely devoid of left-handed options – and see what happens.