Let the these-aren’t-technically-negotiations begin …
We’ve seen the rumors already that have linked the Chicago Cubs to top free agent shortstop Carlos Correa, but the local mentions have been limited to something more like, “It would make sense for the Cubs, but …. ”
I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes too high just yet – particularly not when there can’t actually be any negotiations until the lockout ends – but now we have something a little more firm from a local reporter:
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) December 21, 2021
Per Levine’s report:
While contact between MLB teams and players is prohibited amid the ongoing lockout, there remains mutual interest between the Cubs and free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa, according to multiple sources.
The sides had interest before the lockout went into effect on Dec. 1, and no transactions have been allowed since.
That’s definitely the first local confirmation we’ve heard of mutual interest – apparently known to each other – predating the lockout. Until now, like I said, the reporting was either speculative or more in the vein of tire-kicking.
There’s a big caveat here, and you already know it: the Cubs are not necessarily inclined to go to the 10+ year length that Correa is likely to be seeking. Corey Seager and Francisco Lindor got 10 years on their recent deals, so that’s why that particular length keeps coming up. Seager got 10 years and $325 million already this offseason from the Rangers, while Lindor got 10 years and $341 million in the form of an extension before the 2021 season after his trade to the Mets. You can understand why Correa – just 27, coming off a Platinum Glove and one of his best offensive seasons – would be looking at that range for his next deal. It’s a very substantial commitment.
The Marcus Stroman signing was already your clue about the Cubs’ preferred type of signing, by the way: the Cubs of the current moment are believed to be wide open to any deal that comes with a high annual price tag, but not necessarily any deal that comes with a very long term. (And, as we’ve discussed, it isn’t crazy to be mildly concerned about Correa’s peak seasons misaligning with the right timing for the Cubs. It shouldn’t PRECLUDE interest, but it’s a consideration.)
While it’s easy to say, “Well, just offer Correa a huge AAV on a short-term deal,” the trick is that Correa might be able to have his cake and eat it, too. He might be able to land a 10-year deal that comes with an opt-out after three years, AND pays him $120 million over the first three years. So basically, he gets a short-term, high-AAV deal if he wants to opt out, or the long-term security of $300+ million if things go south in the first three years.
In other words, the Cubs might blanche at a ten-year deal, but the market will dictate what Correa gets, and not the other way around. We’ve discussed how the only known offer on Correa was probably far too low (10/$275 million), and how the Cubs will probably be involved only if they can get a deal that they view as a bargain. Levine’s report would lead you to believe that version of a deal is probably shorter-term, and a really high AAV. Maybe Correa goes for it because he can’t find $300+ million elsewhere, or maybe he doesn’t.
In any case, it’s safe to say the Cubs are seriously interested in Correa at this point, but we still don’t know exactly what level of contract that serious interest will translate to. A source told Levine that the Cubs are willing to go long-term on Correa if that’s what it takes, but not necessarily 10 years. Any chance we’re seeing the negotiations start in the media?