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Obsessive Carlos Correa Watch: Ken Rosenthal Weighs in on the Cubs and Correa

Chicago Cubs

Ken Rosenthal has been all over the news lately, having recently been bumped from his post at MLB Network, reportedly for past criticism of Commissioner Rob Manfred. But the good news is that Rosenthal, one of the top MLB reporters in the country, remains employed by Fox Sports and The Athletic, where he recently shared an update on the rumored Cubs pursuit of Carlos Correa on The Athletic Baseball Show podcast.

Rosenthal wasn’t ruling anything out, but wasn’t particularly optimistic about the Cubs chances – at least not at their present course of action. Here’s part of what he had to say, with some bolded emphasis from me:

Shorter deals. That’s the key phrase here. If indeed the Cubs are going to take that course, I don’t expect that they’re going to get Correa done. And I know fans are going to think ‘Well, maybe Correa will sign for shorter, because this has lingered and now he’s going to be available and a lot of the bigger free agents have signed, it’s going to be a mad-rush with all the free agents …’ 

But I don’t see that happening.

And I don’t see Carlos Correa seeing his price drop simply because there was a lockout …. I still think he’s getting 10 years, I still think he’s getting $300 million-plus. And I believe he still might get over [Corey Seager’s $325M deal].

Not a huge surprise there, right?

There has been no shortage of rumors connecting the Cubs to Carlos Correa this offseason, and they’ve even begun to get tellingly specific. Most recently, we learned that the Cubs are trying to convince Correa to take a seven year deal at something in the $224 million range. And when the rumors are that detailed, there tends to be at least a kernel of truth behind them. Unfortunately, in this case, the truth is probably a little flat: Sure, the Cubs are interested in signing Correa, but they might not be willing to do what it takes to actually get a deal done.

And that lines up with a lot of what we had to say at the time those rumors were coming out:

… a hypothetical deal structure where the Cubs would offer Correa seven years and $224 million – a deal that almost certainly wouldn’t get it done, but is arguably better than the 10/$275 million offer from the Tigers ….

My reactions are: (1) the structure is not crazy or just for show, and MAYBE there are numbers that would make more sense for Correa and the Cubs than a simple 10/$325 million deal (or whatever); (2) the AAV in those first two years is going to have to be muuuuch higher, though, in my view; and (3) I’m still not convinced Correa won’t be able to get his 10-year guarantee *AND* get *MULTIPLE* opt outs after years two, three, four, whatever.

And that’s what makes Rosenthal’s reporting today all the more disappointing. He’s basically confirming that the Cubs efforts, as reported, are not going to get it done.

But I won’t leave you wholly down like that. Rosenthal didn’t stop there, and it does get a little brighter:

It’s difficult to identify which team [might be the one to give Correa his ten-year, $300M+ deal]. The Cubs could be that team, based on financial commitments going forward — they don’t have a whole lot. In theory, you can say, ‘You know what, we’re going to grab Carlos Correa and we’re going to make him the center piece of our Next Great Cubs Team ….

Well, okay. That’s a little more optimistic and tracks very closely with our discussion of the Cubs long-term payroll outlook in early December. That said, we can blab about future numbers until we’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t mean Cubs President Jed Hoyer will change his entire course of action. And that’s exactly what Rosenthal said next on the podcast:

But it certainly has not appeared that [the Cubs are] in that mode, as Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney have written. It doesn’t appear that they’re in an aggressive kind of situation, where they’re going to be in the middle of bidding wars.

So, I still expect Correa to get the long deal, I still expect him to have opt-outs in that deal. I don’t necessarily expect it to be with the Cubs. But I must say, given their financial situation, or should I say, where they are with regard to future payrolls, I would not be shocked if that happened. It just doesn’t seem to be the course they’re on now.

So, yeah, Rosenthal leaves the door cracked open just a bit. And it’s not entirely out of self-preservation (if Correa will sign only for $300M+, someone will have to give it to him, and the Cubs have a need at his position and the payroll space to make it happen), but it just doesn’t seem like that’s what Rosenthal is expecting. Maybe the Cubs will be able to convince Correa that a short-term, extremely high-AAV deal is better, but that’ll be an uphill battle.



Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami