Cubs are rebuilding – and Carlos Correa wants absolutely no part of it

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Before, during and after last winter’s MLB lockout, the Chicago Cubs seemed to maintain at least a tenuous connection to free agent superstar shortstop Carlos Correa. In the end, however, a total dark horse, the Minnesota Twins, came away with the former American League Rookie of the Year on a one-year $35.1 million deal with a pair of insurance policy player options tacked on the back end.

This year, the two-time All-Star has appeared in 60 games for Minnesota, turning in a 138 OPS+ entering action on Monday. Assuming he stays healthy the rest of the year and keeps producing the way he has his entire career, he’s going to opt out of his deal and take another pass at free agency, this time with the Boras Corporation representing him.

But if the Cubs want another bite at the apple, they’re going to really have to sell Correa on their plan – and how they will avoid another lengthy rebuild in the years to come. For his part, the shortstop wants no part of that process at this point in his career.

"“(The Cubs) were interested, but it felt like they were in a rebuilding phase,” Correa said over the weekend. “I’ve always been on winning teams and I’ve always had winning seasons. Rebuilding phase isn’t something I want to be a part of. One of the main reasons I signed here is because I saw an opportunity to win the division and compete in the playoffs. Right now, we’re on July 4th and I don’t regret this decision one bit. It’s for sure the best decision I’ve made.”"

An opportunity to win and play in October isn’t something that’s synonymous with the 2022 Cubs. Chicago, winners of three straight series, are still just 32-48 on the year – good for fourth in a weak National League Central and a full 11 games out of the wild card hunt. That’s not to say there’s not potential on this roster, because there is. But you’re not going to land Correa on solely potential.

Cubs only have a few key building blocks in place right now

Seiya Suzuki made his long-awaited return to the lineup Sunday, immediately making an impact with a go-ahead inside-the-park home run off Josh Hader. He’s one of the few guys, along with breakout infielder Nico Hoerner, who will figure into the team’s long-term picture.

Meanwhile, the likes of Ian Happ and Willson Contreras could very well be nearing the end of their respective Cubs tenures. They’re among the team’s hottest trade chips ahead of the trade deadline, along with several key relievers including Mychal Givens and David Robertson.

So what exactly will be left to entice Correa? An up-and-coming farm system that continues to climb industry rankings and a war chest capable of spending with the best organizations in the game. That’s where they’ll have a chance to convince the former World Series champion to come to Chicago: because few other teams will have the resources in place to spend in the same way and build a supporting cast around him for the long haul.

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Still, it’s going to take quite the sell job from Jed Hoyer, Carter Hawkins and ownership if they want Correa to be the next face of the Cubs. Because he’s made it very clear: he’s not playing for a loser.