Lukewarm Stove: Cubs SS Preferences? deGrom's Impact on Turner? Will Blue Jays Trade a Catcher? More

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Lukewarm Stove: Cubs SS Preferences? deGrom’s Impact on Turner? Will Blue Jays Trade a Catcher? More

Chicago Cubs

Well it wouldn’t be the offseason without conflicting rumors on the same day. Though I admit this is a little less frustrating than usual.

Okay, first the one you’ve already seen: According to Jon Morosi, reporting on MLB Network, the Cubs are a team to watch on Carlos Correa this offseason. Specifically, he said “the Cubs and Correa will be one of those pairs we’ll probably talk about for weeks to come.” Cool. Yes. I like it.

Cubs Shortstop Preferences Emerging

So, that specific report is new, but there’s really no surprises here, right? We’ve seen loads of rumors connecting the Cubs to Correa throughout the last year, including a report last offseason of the Cubs offering to make him *by far* the highest paid player in franchise history.

So why then is he not included in this writeup of each team’s biggest offseason need from Mark Feinsand?

After losing Javier Baez to free agency last year, the Cubs could be in the market for one of this year’s premier free-agent shortstops. Nico Hoerner had a solid season, but the Cubs can slide him to second base to open a spot for an impact bat — something the lineup sorely needs.

Potential FA targets: Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner

It might be easy to dismiss this as an oversight, but I really don’t think it is. That’s a deliberate omission. Feinsand is good at his job, is very aware of the four big free agent shortstops, and includes two of them as the Cubs’ potential free agent targets, but excludes Correa.

We did see some pretty sexy and specific rumors about mutual interest between the Cubs and Trea Turner a few weeks ago (another rumor called the Cubs an early favorite), I just can’t believe how much divergence there is on this pursuit.

I suppose the more useful lesson here is that among the “big four,” Correa and Turner, who have separated themselves as the top two available shortstops, have more of the Cubs attention than Bogaerts or Dansby Swanson. Obviously, that disregards the fact that Feinsand included Bogaerts over Correa, but we’re probably best suited by taking in all of the context and deliberating on our own.

My gut tells me the Cubs’ order of preference is:

1. Carlos Correa
2. Trea Turner
3. Xander Bogaerts
4. Dansby Swanson

And I think the order of costliness will go Turner, Correa, large gap, Bogaerts, smaller gap, Swanson. (Brett: For what it’s worth, I know a lot of the predictions have swung toward Turner getting the biggest deal, but I still think Correa winds up getting a bigger guarantee than Turner, though his contract may wind up more creative.)

Mets: Spending Overblown? Turner, DeGrom

After the Mets were eliminated from the postseason, there were all these rumors of how much money they were going to spend this winter. And while I wouldn’t put it past Steve Cohen to keep pouring resources into his team, the idea of them blowing “well beyond” the highest luxury tax tier ($290M) seemed far fetched. And sure enough, since then, they have (1) substantial deferred dollars in their mega deal for closer Edwin Diaz (which signals at least SOME consideration for the bottom line and luxury tax calculus), and (2) have made their reluctance to be the top dawg on Jacob deGrom’s bidding well known.

The latest comes via Andy Martino at SNY (check out the short clip below), who says the Mets intend to make a strong offer to deGrom early in the year, but aren’t interested in following him down some high-bidding sweepstakes that results with them at the top of the pile (“likely be seeking $44 million annually”). Is it a bluff for a team that is quickly realizing that constantly flexing deep pockets can lead to some overpays? Or are they serious?

On a related note, Martino suggests that the Mets have been internally discussing free agent shortstop Trea Turner “for a long time,” but concedes that at least some of that interest was of the “who wouldn’t want him?” variety. He also implies that adding Turner is more or less off the table financially if the Mets re-sign deGrom, which goes to our first point.

The bottom line here? I don’t think we need to worry about the Mets and Turner quite as much as we thought. I’m guessing deGrom remains their priority and that they’ll probably find a way to get it done. To that end, Martino sees the Braves and Rangers as the two teams that could lure deGrom away.

Blue Jays Catcher Trade

With Willson Contreras on his way out the door and only Yan Gomes/P.J. Higgins remaining, the Cubs could pretty clearly use a catcher this offseason. And while there are a number of intriguing glove-first free agent options, the most attractive path may be a trade — specifically a trade for one of the Blue Jays young catchers, all of whom have been awesome.

We discussed the possibility of a trade like this a few weeks, but now there’s an actual rumor about their availability:

From our last conversation, here’s a look at those three catchers.

  • Alejandro Kirk: 23 years old, four years of control, 129 wRC+, 3.8 WAR, great defensive metrics
  • Danny Jansen: 27 years old, two years of control, 140 wRC+, 2.6 WAR, solidly above-average defensive metrics
  • Gabriel Moreno: 22 years old, top-30 prospect coming into the season, slashed .315/.386/.420 (120 wRC+) at Triple-A and .319/.356/.377 (113 wRC+) at MLB this season with solid defense, athleticism, and an above-average arm behind the plate.

Sign me the ef up.

Except the only problem is that the Blue Jays were reportedly seeking … starting pitching and/or a left-handed bat, which is exactly what the Cubs need this offseason. So you just know the Cardinals, who are seeking a catcher, are going to swoop in, trade them basically nothing, get one of the catchers, immediately extend him for pennies, and he’ll say “I’ve always been a big fan of Yadier Molina, so following in his footsteps has been a dream come true.”

Maybe Cardinals Don’t Want Contreras?

For what it’s worth, I didn’t bring up the Cardinals there just for the joke. We know they’re looking for a catcher this offseason, and at The Athletic, Kaithlyn McGrath identified St. Louis and Cleveland as two teams that could be matches for the Blue Jays.

The good news there is that it could make a Willson Contreras-Cardinals union less likely, which would make me very happy. Indeed, it seems the Contreras embers in St. Louis are already cooling after a red-hot start.

Check out this question and answer via Derrick Goold at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (emphasis mine):

Q: Just adding an upgrade at catcher and adding a big bat would make this team very good, depending on injuries.

A: This is the working approach for the front office as they reach the GM Meetings. Was asked last night if the Cardinals had some priorities, and those were two of that I listed. They want to add a catcher, a stable presence there who can be the everyday starter if called upon, and handle the pitching staff. They want to add a significant bat to the mix, knowing that Pujols’ power is leaving and the need for a left-handed presence would be beneficial. They have described those as two different additions — catcher and bat, not catcher-bat.

That’s a pretty direct shot at Willson Contreras, if you ask me, who’s basically the league’s biggest “catcher-bat,” who just happens to be available and has been connected to the team in early rumor-mongering.

Odds and Ends:

  • Either way, Contreras is going to have options. Perhaps a reunion with an old friend:
  • At The Athletic, Tim Britton has an excellent set of contract projections based on WAR totals in 1, 3, and 5 year increments, as well as historical comps. We’ll dig into it more deeply some other time, but I thought you might want to check it out now.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami