We still have six weeks left in the regular season and, already, we’re hearing offseason rumblings connecting the Cubs to major free agents. Ken Rosenthal, senior baseball writer for The Athletic, dropped this bombshell on his Athletic Baseball Podcast earlier this week.
"“They’ve got to get – and I believe they will get – one of the big shortstops.”"
Rosenthal is well connected to sources around the league and has been a respectable sportswriter/reporter for decades. This is no surprise to most Cubs fans. There was plenty of talk during this past offseason connecting the North Siders to the two-time All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa.
The Cubs’ front office ultimately swung and missed on Correa. However, the 27-year-old former Rookie of the Year and World Series champion signed a deal with the Minnesota Twins that could allow him to opt out after only one year. If that happens, the Cubs could potentially take another swing at a player in his prime.
Other possible targets would be linking the Cubs to Boston’s Xander Bogaerts, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Trea Turner and Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson.
"GM ‘guarantees’ Cubs lands a superstar shortstop this winter"
All of these players would make great additions to Chicago’s starting lineup. Unfortunately, we do not know the availability of half of these players. We can group Bogaerts with Correa because he is under a long-term contract with the possibility of opting out at the end of this season.
This leaves us with Turner and Swanson. Both players can re-sign with their current teams or test the free agency market. Chicago is a big market looking to spend some money. Feeling the pressure from fans, this week, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told ESPN:
"“We have a plan to return to championship contention by building the next great Cubs team around a young core of players augmented by free agent signings — and we’re making progress.”"
At this point, I would like to ask a couple of questions. Which young core players are you going to build around? Is your current shortstop going to be part of the plan moving forward? Should the Cubs even sign a shortstop in the offseason?
What do the Cubs do with Nico Hoerner moving forward?
Nico Hoerner, the team’s current shortstop, is a 25-year-old playing in his fourth season in Chicago. He has a career slash line of .286/.342/.385 which is very similar to the other big-time players listed in this article. However, there is one glaring knock on Hoerner, he lacks the power in his bat. He has only accounted for 10 home runs this season.
If he is part of the next young core – there is still a place for him on this team – even if they sign another shortstop in the offseason.
Hoerner can get on base and could be used as a good table-setter for the big bats in the lineup. Manager David Ross could have him hit second while shifting him over to play second base, where he was a Gold Glove finalist a couple years back. This would open up the possibility of adding a big-time shortstop while allowing Hoerner to be part of the future plans. He isn’t costing the organization that much money ($720,000 in 2022) and won’t be scheduled to become a free agent until 2026.
The front office has plenty of decisions to make during the offseason. It’s clear that they want to start improving this team and getting this franchise back to its winning ways. However, does that mean they start the spending on a shortstop or focus on other positions and what do you do with Hoerner?