Chicago Cubs Among the Early Favorites for Free Agent Shortstop Trea Turner?

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Chicago Cubs Among the Early Favorites for Free Agent Shortstop Trea Turner?

Chicago Cubs

Let’s just call it “fun” for now, rather than getting ourselves too excited. Well, I suppose there is that previous report that the Chicago Cubs will be in on Trea Turner, specifically, in free agency, so maybe there’s a HINT of something more than mere fun here …

The first set of odds on where Turner could land in free agency have the Cubs near the top:

Because they are in a very go-for-it mode, and because of the obvious hole at shortstop, the Phillies are always going to be up there with the Cubs on these lists. The Yankees are the Yankees, though they seem content to wait on Anthony Volpe, and also might be dropping a monster contract on Aaron Judge. The Orioles are definitely a sneaky possibility. Don’t talk to me about the Cardinals.

As for the Cubs, you know the drill there. Trea Turner is always lumped in with that marquee group of shortstop free agents that the Cubs should definitely be (and are heavily rumored to be) pursuing. If you believe the Cubs are going to spend some money this offseason, with a willingness to commit medium and long-term dollars, guys like Turner are going to come up.

Turner, 29, hit .298/.343/.466/128 wRC+, which is a very career average slash line for him. His defense at shortstop rated out as just about average for the position, which is generally where he’s always been. He’s a plus-bat, solid-defensive shortstop, with plus-plus speed. In a world with limited pick-offs and larger bases, as we’ll see next year in MLB, the value from his ability to steal bases (already quite strong) could tick up considerably.

THAT SAID, one of the concerns I have about Turner going forward is how much his power output (doubles, specifically) is speed-oriented, rather than raw power-oriented (he’s only 48th percentile in barrel rate). And speed, for almost all guys, does decline precipitously in their 30s, if not sooner.

If the power goes at all for Turner, then you’re talking about a low-walk (7.2% for his career), high-contact (18.0% strikeout rate), speed guy. His ISO this past season was just .169 (.189 for his career before last season), so it’s already something you’re watching out for.

Turner’s career numbers, via FanGraphs:

If Turner can continue to just be his career average self for at least a few more years, that’s obviously an extremely valuable player. The last two years’ WAR show you just how valuable.

Note that Trea Turner will receive a qualifying offer from the Dodgers, which he will reject. At that point, he’s attached to draft pick compensation, and would thus cost the Cubs their second round pick (12th in the second round), the associated bonus pool space, and $500,000 in IFA bonus pool space. For a player like Turner, it’s definitely not a dealbreaker, even if it theoretically lowers the amount you’d be willing to offer by some predetermined amount.

Like I said at the top, you can treat these odds for now as merely “fun.” But I do think it’s correct to put the Cubs in the market for Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts. (I’m more lukewarm on Dansby Swanson, who I very much expect to return to the Braves in any case.)


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.