Re-Opening the Cubs Rumor Mill: Correa, Rizzo, Contreras, Kiermaier, Padres and Hosmer, More

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Re-Opening the Cubs Rumor Mill: Correa, Rizzo, Contreras, Kiermaier, Padres and Hosmer, More

Chicago Cubs

MLB is back, and free agency is opening up in maybe an hour. So let’s very briefly run down the existing Cubs rumors (from as far back as November) to reset the stage and get a handle on what could come next. It’s all happening so fast …

But first, the brass tacks: The Chicago Cubs 40-man roster currently sits at 39 players. That includes three locks for the rotation (Marcus Stroman, Kyle Hendricks, and Wade Miley), and really only one positional lock around the diamond (catcher Willson Contreras). Obviously, we can take some pretty easy guesses for other rostered players on the field and in the bullpen, but the broader point is there’s nothing but room to add. Pretty much anywhere.

Note also that the Cubs 2022 payroll (both in terms of actual dollars and for the purposes of the CBT calculation) is around $117 million. That means there’s roughly $113 million worth of room to spend before any penalties kick in – that probably isn’t what’s going to dictate the spending this year, one way or another, but the point is that there is plenty of short-term money to spend.

What Was Done:

The Cubs also completed some important moves before the lockout began. In case you forgot, the Cubs …

•   Signed SP Marcus Stroman
•   Claimed SP Wade Miley off waivers
•   Signed backup catcher Yan Gomes
•   Signed OF Clint Frazier

They also have two arbitration-eligible players (Ian Happ and Willson Contreras), but those cases might not be resolved until we’re weeks into the season.

Okay, now the rumors.

Carlos Correa Long-Shot

The sexiest rumor of the offseason is tying the Chicago Cubs to free agent shortstop Carlos Correa. Correa is reportedly seeking a deal in the ten-year, $330M+ range, a level to which the Cubs are NOT expected to extend themselves. They are, however, reportedly interested in trying to convince Correa to take a seven-year deal.

Most realistic observers remain unconvinced that the Cubs are actually going to be the final bidder for Correa, but they have been connected an awful lot, they do have a glaring need, and Marcus Stroman has been out there campaigned for a while. This is the big one, friends. Keep your wits about you.

A Defense-First Shortstop

In the more likely scenario that Correa signs elsewhere, the Cubs are still going to want a glove-first shortstop. There are options in free agency (Jonathan Villar, Jose Iglesias) and trade, but either way, they are expected to bring in someone from the outside. Brett compiled a full list of the reasonably available, top-defensive shortstops on the market.

A Reunion with Anthony Rizzo?

Anthony Rizzo’s outcome is deeply woven into the decisions of free agent first baseman Freddie Freeman (Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Rays) and the potential Matt Olson trade (A’s), but the Cubs have been mentioned.

In fact, recently, Bruce Levine even suggested that the Cubs front office was considering a quick reunion with the former Cub as soon as free agency opened back up. Given that the Cubs  have a theoretical opening at first base, the need for a left-handed bat, a desire to improve their infield defense, and the option of the DH, a reunion is not as unlikely as it may once have seemed. Early reports suggest that Rizzo could be had for something in the 2-3 year range.

A Willson Contreras Trade?

Before the lockout, the industry seemed to believe that the Cubs were going to either extend Willson Contreras or seriously consider trading him before the season. However, things have gotten very murky since those initial reports.

For one, the most obvious time to entertain a Contreras extension would have been during the arbitration hearings that should already be over. But due to the lockout, those conversations won’t happen until the season is already underway.

So while the Cubs and Contreras could still come together to negotiate an extension during this expedited Spring Training season – avoiding arbitration all together – it seems a little unlikely, given how much needs to get done.

Trading for a Glove-First CF?

Here’s one you may have forgotten. Back in January and February, there were some reports that the Cubs were looking to add a glove-first center fielder, perhaps in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for Kevin Kiermaier.

This concept was also brought up in December and the Cubs and Rays even discussed a “prospect-buying” trade deal including Kevin Kiermaier back at the trade deadline.

And whenever this particular conversation comes up, we usually also include Tyler Glasnow in the conversation. We’ll see if there’s anything there when the transaction moratorium is over, but the foundation has been set.

Prospect-Buying Deal with the Padres?

Of course, we can’t talk about a prospect-buying deal without mentioning the Padres, with whom the Cubs have discussed – on multiple occasions – a deal including Eric Hosmer and/or Wil Myers and prospects.

This is the latest and most useful update to that story:

The General Needs/Targets

And then, of course, there are the general needs of the team, including a glove-first shortstop, a back-end closer/relief type, a flyer starter, and a left-handed power bat. Oh, also Seiya Suzuki.

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Author: Michael Cerami

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