There are four big free agent shortstops available this winter — Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson — three of which have been pretty explicitly connected to the Cubs on more than one occasion (Correa, Bogaerts, Turner). I don’t think that’s news to anyone around here, but there’s your weekly reminder.
But I think the volume of those options and the frequency with which they’re connected to the Cubs gives us a false sense of optimism on the Cubs ability to land any one of them, let alone the guy they may want most. After all, if four premier shortstops are hitting the market, that means four teams lost a premier shortstop, to say nothing of external suitors (like the Cubs) joining the conversation.
And that’s why it’s important for us to stay apprised of the competition, especially when it’s another NL team with extremely deep pockets.
Let’s start at The New York Post, where Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, still interested in re-signing Trea Turner, may look to replace him with one of his free agent counterparts if things don’t work out:
The Dodgers would surely love to bring [Turner] back, as Turner brings a rare speed-power combo to shortstop. But they likely still wonder whether they might be his first choice, and thus are surveying a very rich shortstop market. No surprise they appear to have landed on the other comparably great free-agent shortstop as an enticing 1A choice: Carlos Correa. They love everything he brings, and thus far don’t seem to have 2017 reservations.
On top of that, Heyman suggests that the Braves could follow a similar path with respect to Turner and their outgoing free agent shortstop Dansby Swanson. It’s a game of free agent shortstop musical chairs, and Turner’s list of possible suitors (according to Heyman) — Dodgers, Braves, Cardinals, Phillies, and Red Sox — does not include the Chicago Cubs.
But for now, let’s stick with the Dodgers, who’s expected plans at shortstop also got a deep dive at The Athletic, with some different, but still very notable information and rumors.
First and foremost, while Turner is open to a return to Los Angeles, extension talks have “yet to generate momentum in getting a deal done.” Apparently, the Dodgers did broach the idea last winter, but there just wasn’t any traction. Query whether that was driven by a desire to test the market, the impact of the lockout, or just the wrong timing. I don’t think we can know for sure. Bottom line, “to date, there haven’t been any substantive talks between the two sides on an extension, sources told The Athletic.”
So if Turner’s return is looking unlikely, what else might the Dodgers do? Well we know Heyman thinks Correa becomes the 1A target, but Fabian Ardaya (The Athletic) wonders whether the Dodgers might look to repeat their M.O. with Freddie Freeman last year: “The Dodgers landed a surprise Atlanta star last winter in Freeman and could pursue a similar route with Dansby Swanson.”
And that’s not all, Ardaya also mentions – seemingly out of nowhere – the possibility of trading for someone like Milwaukee’s Willy Adames, whose presence on the trade market could be a big boon for the Cubs, especially if he ends up as the primary shortstop in L.A.
Adaya also discusses some of the Dodgers internal options, but seems to believe their next shortstop will come from outside the organization: “It’ll be among the biggest points of discussion for a Dodgers offseason filled with them.”
So let’s recap that for clarity: The Dodgers are most likely going to add a shortstop this offseason. It sounds like they’d be happy to re-sign Trea Turner, but there’s pessimism on a possible extension. In his place, Jon Heyman thinks they will target Carlos Correa (believed by many to be the Cubs top target), while Fabian Ardaya thinks Dansby Swanson or a trade for Willy Adames are more likely.
Beyond that, Heyman does not include the Cubs among Turner’s likely landing spots, but does think Atlanta could emerge as a potential destination.
So even setting aside the more specific rumors above, all of which must be filed away, it seems clear that the Dodgers and probably also the Braves are going to be aggressive in the shortstop market this winter, creating some pretty stiff competition for the Chicago Cubs. So if they really want to land one of these bats, they’ll likely have to win a bidding war.