With Carlos Correa in town as his Twins play the White Sox, there were opportunities for the Cubs-affiliated media to talk to the star shortstop who may or may not have been a sincere offseason target.
Correa was understandably reluctant to talk about his future, since he does still have a contract with the Twins (from which he can – and will – opt out after the season). But he did say a number of things that are worth sharing when it comes to the Cubs.
As for the pursuit before the season, while there were indeed conversations before the lockout, as rumored, there was nothing there after the lockout ended. Moreover, it doesn’t sound like Correa was going to be interested unless the offer was over the top (via The Athletic):
“(The Cubs) were interested, but it felt like they were in a rebuilding phase. I’ve always been on winning teams and I’ve always had winning seasons. Rebuilding phase isn’t something I want to be a part of. One of the main reasons I signed (with the Twins) is because I saw an opportunity to win the division and compete in the playoffs.”
Especially on the deal Correa wound up signing – effectively a one-year deal – it would’ve made no sense for him to sign with the Cubs. He was not the difference between this team stinking and this team making the playoffs, so I think he was right in that respect, even if the Cubs won’t say they were/are in a rebuild.
So, then, would Correa consider signing with the Cubs after this season if they pursued him again? Here’s how Patrick Mooney put it:
Correa expects the Cubs will come calling once again if he’s available. He noticed when Cubs fans tried their best to lure him via social media and appreciated their efforts. The lofty expectations of fans have led Correa to believe the Cubs will be very active this offseason, and he’s always appreciated the organization.
“Wrigley is Wrigley and the Cubs are the Cubs — it’s a great organization with such a great fanbase,” he said.
Never close any doors.
That said, Gordon Wittenmyer got some additional Correa quotes over at NBCSC, and you can see the same theme this offseason as last offseason. Basically something like, yeah, sure, the Cubs could be in the mix from Correa’s perspective, but they’re going to have to look a heckuva lot more competitive than they do right now.
Consider it all the more reason that the development goals this year are so important. Yes, money will ultimately talk, but you are often trying to convince a free agent that it’s even worth hearing you out. And it’s not like you WANT to have to sign a guy for an extra year or an extra $5 million AAV.
Being able to credibly demonstrate that yours is an organization that looks like it is turning the corner for 2023 – both in terms of internal developments, external additions, and a commitment to spending – is going to be very important if the Cubs want to be able to attract the best of the best. It’s a problem they invited with how they handled the last four-ish years, and it’s a problem that many other major market teams do not have to deal with. The Cubs have given themselves something of a disadvantage.
After a slow start to the season, Correa has posted a .291/.363/.461/138 wRC+ slash line thus far with the Twins, which is pretty par for him. Correa will be joined on the robust shortstop market this offseason by Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, and Dansby Swanson.
(A reminder: none of this is a commentary on Nico Hoerner’s success as a shortstop this year. One way or another, the Cubs would find a way to maximize Hoerner’s value and any incoming free agent “shortstop,” either by way of Hoerner going back to second base and being outstanding, or by way of the free agent playing third base. Or some other formulation. You worry about that later if you want the player, and many of the best available free agents this year just happen to be “shortstops.”)