Chicago Cubs need more than just a shortstop in order to contend
By Eric Rubin
As a large-market team, it would definitely be nice for the Chicago Cubs to sign a big-name player, such as Carlos Rodon, Dansby Swanson, or Carlos Correa. But honestly, is shortstop the position we desperately need? No. With the loss of Willson Contreras and the weak bullpen, we are still a 3rd placed team. The St. Louis Cardinals are highly likely to win the division and with the strong rotation of the Brewers, it will be extremely hard to compete for a wild card spot.
Instead of focusing on signing a shortstop, the Cubs should look into the catcher and bullpen free agents. Even though Cubs #16 prospect Miguel Amaya should be up in the majors later this season, between him and Yan Gomes, we need help at the catcher position. Currently, the top available free-agent catchers include Tucker Barnhart, Gary Sanchez, Roberto Perez, and Christian Vazquez. Signing one of these players would be more beneficial to the team as of now.
Other than catchers, the Cubs bullpen is weak. With Brandon Hughes likely to lead the way in the bullpen in 2023, the rest of the arms in the pen are not too good. We do not know if Kyle Hendricks will get another chance to start, or Keegan Thompson in the bullpen or the rotation. Some of the top available bullpen arms include Corey Knebel, Trevor May, and Taylor Rogers. For the 2022 season, the Cubs had the 10th-worst bullpen ERA in baseball with a 4.12 ERA, and the 11th-worst WHIP at 1.31. Bullpen help is what this team desperately needs, more than a shortstop, more than another starter.
To those of you saying that signing a shortstop to a long-term deal will help us in the future, maybe. But what about our top prospects? If the idea is to sign a shortstop to help us in the future, there are a few problems. 1, whether we sign Correa or Swanson, in a few years they will be in their mid-30s. 2, the Cubbies #6 prospect is a shortstop and is projected to be called up in 2025. Prospects could obviously be busts but look at Christopher Morel, who came out of nowhere and stayed up in the majors all season. Between Christian Hernandez (#6), Kevin Made (#17), and Ed Howard (#20), one of these shortstops should be able to compete in the majors.
Signing a player because of their name may not always be the smart move, especially if the front office does not believe they can compete in a few years. the NL Central may not seem like a tough division, but the rest of the National League is. Between the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Cardinals, 6 teams make the playoffs. If the Cubs think that singing Correa or Swanson will immediately boost this team as a top 6 team in the National League, then go for it, but there are so many more holes and problems this team has that are not a shortstop.