Two Sets of Free Agent Projections, Dollar Figures, Cubs Targets, and More

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Two Sets of Free Agent Projections, Dollar Figures, Cubs Targets, and More

Chicago Cubs

We’re deep in it now. The World Series could end as soon as tomorrow, which would mean a whole bunch of players would officially become free agents as soon as Sunday morning. Things get really busy on the timeline from there, so catch up if you missed yesterday’s rundown of the dates and deadlines ahead.

Meanwhile, two new free agent rankings and projections to discuss – the projected signing totals being the most interesting part, in my view. One from Jon Heyman, who bases his projections on an “outside expert”, and one from Jim Bowden, whose projections are informed by “conversations with decision-makers across the game.”

Among the notable items …

  • I would take these associations with a huge grain of salt, because there’s a lot of guesswork in it, but here are the free agents on the lists (these are merely top 25/30 free agent lists) for whom the Cubs get a mention: Carlos Correa (x2), Trea Turner (x2), Dansby Swanson, Kodai Senga (x2), Willson Contreras, Jose Abreu, Tyler Anderson, and Kenley Jansen. Nothing too surprising there from where I sit, other than, perhaps, the fact that the Cubs are not mentioned on any of the impact starting pitchers outside of Senga. I wouldn’t necessarily stake my shirt on the Cubs landing one of those top starters, but I do think the Cubs will be checking in.
  • Each projection has Carlos Correa topping a $30M AAV over nine or ten seasons, which definitely seems like it’ll be his ask. Gut says the Cubs REALLY want Correa, but REALLY want him to be open to something whacky like 4/$160M or maybe 5/$200M. A record AAV for a position player, but as short-term as possible. May or may not be do-able. I am speculating on this, mind you, and there were reports that the Cubs were willing to go to seven years last offseason, albeit at a lower AAV.
  • Trea Turner, too, checks in with eight and nine-year projections over $30M, which does sound like a long commitment to a speed guy who turns 30 next year, but you have to remember: these deals aren’t about getting value in years six or seven or eight. That’s just the price of getting the guy signed today, and then it is GENERALLY preferable (to owners, at least) to spread a signing over more years and defer more money. The price of poker on these shortstops is going to be very high. That’s just a reality.
  • To that end, Bogaerts and Swanson come in around, or a little under, $200 million in these projections. The punditry has pretty clearly started to separate the four into two-and-two.
  • Both sets of projections have Aaron Judge landing $330 million guaranteed, though Heyman’s expert has that over nine years, while Bowden’s is over eight. I tend to think the years matter less in Judge’s situation *IF* he’s topping $300 million guaranteed, since either way, you’re going to be paying him when he’s in his late-30s or even 40. The years are interesting to me if he considers one of those super-short, super-high-AAV deals. Otherwise, the years for an older guy like Judge are really just a way to stretch out paying the guarantee. And if he can get $330 million total guaranteed, I think he would be well-advised to go that route rather than taking 4/$180M from the Dodgers or Cubs or whoever.
  • It is both hilarious and completely understandable that the Kodai Senga projections are SOOOO different: 5 years and $65 million … or 3 years and $72 million! That’s how it is in these situations, where it’s not just that predicting the translated performance from Japan is difficult, but it’s also that predicting just how much one MLB team might specifically love this international player is nearly impossible. We know that the Cubs like Senga. I think that’s more or less accepted as a fact at this point. But do they project him as a two, and therefore they would absolutely try to land him on that Marcus-Stroman-like 3/$72M deal? Or do they like him as a middle-to-back of the rotation type, where 5/$65M is much more appropriate to reflect the downside risk? My guess as I sit here today is that Senga’s deal winds up somewhere in the middle, and I’d had 4/$60M in my head for a while.
  • Among the other guys who’ve been attached to the Cubs this offseason, Jose Abreu lands a three-year $75 million deal from Heyman’s expert (what?! PASS), but just two years and $34 million from Bowden (yeah, ok, maybe).
  • Brandon Nimmo is at just 5/$80M from Bowden, which feels like a STEAL. He gets 7/$145M from Heyman’s expert, which seems crazy in the other direction.
  • Jacob deGrom comes up just shy of Max Scherzer’s deal on both lists, either in AAV or years (3/$125M, 2/$90M). I would so extremely absolutely do that second deal.
  • Carlos Rodon is in the five-year, $150 million range on both lists, which is probably what it will take. Who has the stomach for it? Sometimes guys who are studs do finally figure themselves out, and get and stay healthy at age 30 … but obviously sometimes they do not.
  • Justin Verlander gets a two or three-year deal at a near-record AAV on each list, which again, does seem like what he’d be shooting for, even at his age, coming off the season he just had.
  • Christian Vazquez, who doesn’t make Bowden’s list, gets 3/$33M from Heyman’s expert, which sounds about right for the way the catcher position is trending. Not sure Cubs would want to go three years, but if they really want a glove man to pair with Yan Gomes in 2023 and then stick around beyond that, it might be worth it.
  • Speaking of catchers, Willson Contreras projects to get four years from both, and between $78 and $88 million. I have no doubt that’s the range he’s targeting, but I have my doubts about whether he can get it with the draft pick compensation attached. Here’s hoping he can, since it’s clear by now it won’t come from the Cubs.

Peruse each list at your leisure here and here. Lots to think about.


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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.