I’m as surprised as you, but this has to be on our radars now. Stick with me for how I landed on that headline.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep making it an anthem: free agent predictions should always be judged critically. If they’re a pure dot-connecting bit of guesswork, then they are worth little more than a nod of, “OK, that’s interesting and maybe fun to discuss.” If they are based on clear sourced reports, however, that’s an entirely different thing. You want to pay attention to those.
Where the predictions fall in the middle – a bit of guesswork, but informed perhaps by some things a reporter is hearing behind the scenes – is a little trickier to say how much stock you should put into it. Kinda depends on your mileage with the reporter and their sources, as well as your own sense on whether what they are saying sounds credible.
Against that backdrop, I present R.J. Anderson’s just-released top free agent predictions at CBS, and, more specifically, where he predicts shortstop Corey Seager will land:
No. 2 Corey Seager, SS, Cubs
The Cubs have been signaling, both publicly and privately, that they intend to spend money this winter. Seager would provide a face to their new-look roster while also giving their lineup a much-needed boost. That Seager may have to eventually slide off shortstop seems like less of a problem for a team in transition than it was for, say, the Dodgers.
Several things to note:
1.) This is not the first item connecting the Cubs to Seager. Mark Feinsand pegged the Cubs as one of the most likely suitors – to the surprise of many – and other more general reports were keeping the Cubs in the mix for the top shortstops in free agency. (Our reaction has generally been: yeah, there’s an obvious need and fit, and plenty of money, so why wouldn’t the Cubs at least stay involved? But for the Cubs to actually emerge as a top bidder on a guy like Corey Seager or Carlos Correa would be a surprise.)
2.) Anderson, you may remember, was the dude who broke the Blake Snell trade to the Padres last year, AND THEN broke word that the Padres were still in on Yu Darvish even after that trade. He hears some things from time to time, folks.
3.) The Cubs have an obvious hole at shortstop (and third base, just sayin’), and we also know they have a desperate long-term need for left-handed power. If you bought the idea that the Cubs have no interest in a long-term rebuild, then it isn’t like it’s hard to see how Seager is a fit. The timing feels a year or two early, but I’ll admit: at 27, it’s not like Seager can’t be part of the Cubs’ success in 2023-24 just as easily as 2022.
4.) That phrase “publicly and privately” sure is interesting, isn’t it? The implication is that Anderson has heard the Cubs are letting agents know they intend to spend, and – together with whatever else he’s aware of – that brought him all the way to Seager, likely the second priciest free agent on the market. Bold.
This has raised my antenna far more than anything else we’ve heard this offseason. I’m not saying that Anderson is reporting, hard and fast, that the Cubs are balling out on Corey Seager. I’m just saying that, given his phrasing and his track record, I’m paying MUCH closer attention to the possibility of the Cubs being seriously in on Seager than I was before.
Speaking of which, the whole thing is also making me remember that Bruce Levine dropped this earlier in the month out of nowhere:
Who should the Cubs sign as a free agent ? I tell you why it should be SS Corey Seager tonight at 6pm on Cubs 360 @WatchMarquee
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) November 2, 2021
It was a bit odd of Levine to pick Seager at that time, and I’ll admit, I wondered if he was doing that thing that reporters sometimes do: they hear something behind the scenes, but it’s not quite enough to be reported (or a source offered it only on background). So they “guess” that maybe the team might go after a certain player, or suggest that the team “should” go after a certain player. I’ve seen it many times, and I know enough of how the sausage is made to know it happens a fair bit (I can’t say with respect to Levine, specifically, mind you – just in general). At the time, I just kinda tucked it away, because it was so surprising and fairly limited in his comments.
But now? After Feinsand wrote what he wrote, and Anderson now wrote what he wrote? Like I said, the antenna is up.
With the Jeff Passan report that Seager is among the high-end free agents considering signing BEFORE the CBA expires on December 1, we might not have to wait too long for the first report that the Cubs are indeed pursuing Seager. If one ever comes, that is.
Again: we’re not there yet. We don’t yet have a sourced report that the Cubs are indeed trying to sign Corey Seager (and I’ll tell you right now, I haven’t heard it behind the scenes yet). We have only a variety of reports that say the Cubs are still involved in the top-end shortstop market (which isn’t REALLY saying a lot), and then a few threads that connect the Cubs to Seager a bit.
Let’s see where this goes. And then let’s go REALLY nuts when the Cubs sign the elder Seager, Kyle, who makes a ton of sense for them anyway, and people start saying they did it to woo his brother. That’d be a fun few days.