Cubs need one of the big shortstops and Trea Turner seems likeliest

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

It’s clear the Chicago Cubs need to land one of the big four shortstops this offseason. For the sake of adding star power, filling the hole at second base by proxy, and trying to field a legitimately competitive team next year, it has to happen. We’ve heard reports tying them to Carlos Correa, Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts and, unless the Braves work out yet another extension, they’ll likely be tied to Dansby Swanson, too. The question now is which one makes the most sense?

From a pure numbers perspective, all of them would improve this team significantly. With wRC+ numbers of 140 (Correa), 134 (Bogaerts), 128 (Turner), and 116 (Swanson) last year, each one would’ve been one of the top three hitters or better on the team. Correa is the youngest of the bunch with arguably the highest upside, but in terms of who makes the most sense for the Cubs right now based on performance and the type of deals they want to commit to, Turner seems like their likeliest bet.

Looking at what Jed Hoyer said about the mindset on long-term deals during the end-of-season press conference, it seems clear that he’s not willing to make these long, drawn-out agreements. It’s a point he’s made time and time again and something telegraphed by both the Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki deals from last year. Ten-year deals are not what he’s looking for, even if it means paying more in the short-term to land a player.

My fear with Correa is, then, that he’ll hold firm to his hopes for that longer contract and somebody (read: Orioles) will get anxious enough and give it to him. Unless the Cubs would really jack up the AAV, all indications are that he’d like the longer deal, hence why he took the ultra-short deal with the Twins last offseason to have another shot at that long-term contract. They could get creative with options, but nothing beats security.

Trea Turner makes sense on all fronts for the Cubs

As for Turner, given he’s a bit older without quite the pedigree of Correa, it seems more likely that he’d sign a shorter, higher AAV deal in the seven-to-eight-year range. What the Cubs would get is an extremely versatile player who has posted four straight 4+ fWAR seasons not counting the shortened 2020 season. Of course, the unique advantage to him is his 99th percentile speed which compensates for any lack of power. Given the limited shift next season, that speed will be extra important for covering more ground defensively.

Granted, there are reasons to be a little wary about Turner too. He wouldn’t add as much slug to the Cubs lineup as Correa or Bogaerts, especially with 48th-percentile average exit velocity and 60th-percentile hard-hit ratings. With a little less power, age could really hurt him as he loses speed over time. His stellar contact ability indicated by an 89th percentile expected batting average and a well-below-average strikeout rate of 18.5 percent is still reason enough to feel confident long-term.

The main concern with the Cubs’ ability to land him would be the Dodgers. With Los Angeles now without a shortstop, they’re going to be fighting tooth and nail to get a superstar on the market this year. Chances are, they’ll be eager to try and retain Turner’s services and they definitely have the resources to battle the Cubs for him. It’s up to Hoyer here to flex the team’s cap space and outbid them.

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Correa still feels like the number one target given his makeup, but Turner really seems to fit the gameplan Hoyer has laid out while still providing that star power. As long as they add one of these guys, however, it’s hard to be too upset with the outcome.