With Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez already officially off the board, it’ll be all eyes on Trevor Story and Carlos Correa once the lockout ends. The Chicago Cubs are among the group of teams in need of help at shortstop – but looking ahead to next winter, they need to stick to their guns, because there are more options on the very-near horizon.
Correa is looking for a record-breaking contract in his first foray into free agency – one that will likely span at least the next decade, a length Jed Hoyer is reportedly unwilling to go to. Between the length and the fact it’ll likely come with a $350+ million price tag, this is the perfect time for Hoyer to find a next-tier option, even on a one or two-year deal, and bide his time with an eye on next winter’s free agent class.
Why? If the stars properly align, we could see a trio of big-time shortstops headlining the 2023 crop of free agents – giving Chicago a chance to evaluate internal options this season, knowing they can pivot to reinforcements next winter if things go awry.
Cubs: Dansby Swanson, fresh off a title, looking for another big season
Former Vanderbilt standout and first-rounder Dansby Swanson now has a ring to his credit – and now, he’ll look to put together a strong showing in 2022 to set himself up for a dive into the free agent waters come next winter.
Now, let’s be clear – Dansby Swanson is not Carlos Correa, nor am I suggesting he is. But if you’re not about locking up $35+ million of your payroll annually in one player, Swanson is a perfectly serviceable option for the Cubs moving forward. He ranked in the 82nd percentile in both outs above average and sprint speed in 2021 – and was in the top quarter or so of the league in chase rate and barrel percentage.
His strikeout rate has climbed by around four percent when you look at the last two years combined against the early years of his career, so you’d like to see him make some adjustments this year and get that trend corrected. But he’s a quality defender and could be a nice piece for Chicago – and one that would cost a mere fraction of what Correa will – and he’ll play the 2023 season at just 29 years old.