Baseball is officially back and if you need proof, look no further than Cubs Twitter, which was ablaze on Saturday after the signing of Andrelton Simmons was announced. The glaring question on everyone’s mind right away: What does this mean for the team’s potential pursuit of superstar shortstop Carlos Correa?
In short, nothing. Simmons may primarily be a shortstop but he also plays around the infield at different positions. In fact, as recently as Saturday, Correa was still being projected, by some, to land with Chicago due to their flexibility in payroll and obvious need on both sides of the ball. Given their lack of long-term commitments on the books, really any player Jed Hoyer takes interest in is a very real possibility – including the longtime Houston star.
Simmons has been an elite defender for the majority of his career – and with even a quick glance at his numbers, you understand pretty quickly that this is where he delivers his value. He’s coming off a horrendous 2021 season at the plate in which he slashed just .223/.283/.274 and he hasn’t been even league average in terms of OPS+ since 2018.
Brought in on a one-year, $4 million deal, it’s clear the Cubs don’t view Simmons as a sort of franchise direction-altering signing, but an important one nonetheless. With the pitching staff so dependent on ground balls and quality defense behind it, adding one of the best middle infield defenders in the game makes a ton of sense.
Cubs won’t be dissuaded from pursuing Carlos Correa after this signing
Don’t be surprised to see Nico Hoerner used more as a utility piece this year, playing shortstop, maybe some second base, while also seeing plenty of action as an outfielder, as well. Simmons adds some high quality defensive depth in the infield – and in no way will hinder Chicago from seriously pursuing Correa should they choose to do so. Sure, they play the same position – but that’s about where the comparison should stop.
Maybe if the Cubs hadn’t gone out and signed Marcus Stroman prior to the lockout, I’d believe they were comfortable with Simmons as their everyday shortstop. But a team that’s not looking to win or is more focused on reclamation projects doesn’t go out and pay a guy (in this case, Stroman) $25 million a year.
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Free agency is picking up speed – but most of the primetime names remain available. If Chicago goes out and signs Correa, great. They have Simmons’ excellent defense in the mix, which would allow Correa to get days off and even see time as a DH to keep him fresh. If not, we’ll see Simmons regardless – but there could be a different direction the team takes to shore up the infield.