Assuming the Cubs do actually open the checkbook in a meaningful way this offseason, whom might they target?
We’ve already heard a lot about the big-four free agent shortstops, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, and, of course, Carlos Correa, who’s having a really excellent season:
And remember, signing a “shortstop” in the free agent class is not necessarily about displacing Nico Hoerner – you can coordinate those positions easily enough if you really want the bat.
But shortstop is hardly the only position where the Cubs could make an addition …
Josh Bell as a Potential Cubs Target?
Indeed, one of the most obvious positions for an upgrade would be first base. The Cubs could roll with Frank Schwindel again — the 30-year-old right-handed first baseman has slashed .258/.315/.485 (116 wRC+) since May 21 and is not even arbitration eligible until 2025. But given his age, up-and-down performance, and recent injuries, I don’t think that would inspire much confidence.
The Cubs also do have some internal options like Matt Mervis, who was recently called “one of the Cubs’ best pure offensive prospects” and Bryce Ball moving up the system. But, again, there’s not much certainty there.
So what about free agency? Well, among the more attractive, younger options you’ll find former Pirates first baseman Josh Bell, 29, who’s really broken out offensively this year with the Nationals: .311/.392/.495 (145 wRC+) with 11 HRs and 46 RBI.
And the best part? He’s striking out just 13.5% of the time, while walking 11.0%, AND he’s a switch-hitter. The defense leaves much to be desired, but then so does Schwindel’s. I have no idea if the Cubs are actually going to become interested, but that could be one way to add some thump to the lineup for a price less than the Judge-Correa tier. Not that the Cubs shouldn’t also consider Correa, of course.
Kyle Hendricks Tradable, Marcus Stroman Not?
On Monday, we discussed the reported market interest in Kyle Hendricks at the deadline following a report from Jon Heyman on the Mully and Haugh Show. But from that same conversation, we also heard Heyman say that Marcus Stroman does not have much marketability …
“I think at this point, they’d be very fortunate if he was able to come back and show that he’s worth trading. You mentioned that [he had signed] a reasonable contract. The reason it was a reasonable contract is that not many teams wanted him. And now, with his shoulder question, I don’t think there’s going to be anybody that wants him. I’m sorry. “
To which I say … good?
Setting aside whether Stroman would or would not have trade value at this particular deadline given the contract and the injury issues, I’m not exactly eager to see the Cubs trade him right now anyway.
I have plenty of faith in Marcus Stroman’s ability to bounce back, not just this season, but next year, too. I think he will be a key piece of the Cubs rotation, both in terms of his performance and also his veteran leadership for what should be a young rotation. So why should the Cubs want to trade him right now? It just doesn’t make much sense.
Trea Turner Preferences
If money wasn’t a preference, which of the four big shortstops would you want to sign this offseason?
That’s hardly an exhaustive analysis, but the point is that they’re close in age and offensive performance, and each has one other strength or characteristic that leads the pack. The Cubs did show interest in Correa last offseason, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where they start this time around.
Of course, it’s important to remember that they don’t just get to pick. Players have preferences, too. And so far, it may be the case that Turner wants to play on the East Coast, perhaps for the Phillies (would they really sign ANOTHER expensive position player?).
Bob Nightengale (USA Today) spoke with “several talent evaluators” who apparently believe that Philadelphia will ultimately sign Turner this offseason. And Jon Heyman backed up that belief.
Turner wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice for the Cubs, but he’s obviously a fantastic player and the more options the better. This will be fascinating to watch this offseason. And remember, the earlier rumors are that the Cubs are “guaranteed” to land one of the big shortstops.
Odds and Ends and Other Cubs Rumors:
“When I was growing up, trying to get into the big leagues,” he said, “we’re told there’s 30 teams out there. You might not necessarily get to play for the same team for a long time or even throughout your whole caree.
“So if there’s a team out there that might think that my skill set would work for the team — I mean, my mentality is to come in and try to do good job.”