In a surprising development for the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball, it would appear that the market for free-agent shortstop Dansby Swanson is heating up.
The words "heat up" in regard to a free agent's market typically tend to lead to a deal shortly thereafter. For comparison, last Tuesday, hours after Cody Bellinger's free-agent market was heating up, the reports of the Cubs signing Bellinger began to break. Yesterday, it was reported that free-agent catcher Christian Vazquez's market was heating up and news of his signing with the Minnesota Twins broke shortly thereafter.
Swanson signing before Carlos Correa would be somewhat of a surprise. The reason is, if you look at the teams that Russ Dorsey mentioned, three of them are believed to be involved in the bidding for Correa. With Correa being the better of the two shortstops, the sense was Swanson would be the last free agent to sign as teams that missed on Correa, Trea Turner, and Xander Bogaerts would turn their attention to the former Atlanta Braves shortstop. To that end, it would seem unlikely that the Twins nor the Giants would opt to sign Swanson before Correa made a decision. While the Cubs are still believed to be involved in Correa's market, it has been more apparent that Swanson is more likely.
It's possible that a team, that has been shut out on a majority of their free-agent targets, may look to jump the market on Swanson and make him an offer that he couldn't say no to. That team could very well be the Cubs. Outside of Bellinger and free-agent starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, the Cubs have swung and missed on each of their primary free-agent targets. For a team that has circled the free-agent shortstop class of 2022 for the past 12 months, the Cubs can't come away from this offseason without a premium shortstop in the fold.
For the Cubs, overpaying Swanson is not the same as overpaying Correa. Overpaying on Swanson likely means an 8-year deal that is within the $200MM-$215MM range. Overpaying on Correa likely means a 10-year deal that is north of $340MM. There is no reason why the Cubs shouldn't be willing to make that type of overpay on Correa but Swanson's overpay is likely closer to what the Cubs originally intended to sign a shortstop for this offseason.