Rumors about the Chicago Cubs and free agent shortstop Carlos Correa are not new. Heck, they go back as far as the 2012 MLB Draft, when many thought the Cubs were going to take Correa with the 6th overall pick before the Astros worked out a pre-draft slot-related deal to take him at first overall.
More recently, the Cubs and Correa were connected in rumors last offseason before the lockout, when the Cubs were reportedly trying to sign him to a seven-year deal. After the lockout ended, the interested seemed not to be there anymore, and Correa settled for what was effectively a one-year pillow contract with the Twins.
Since then, the Cubs-Correa chatter hasn’t stopped, including concerns out of Minnesota that the Cubs, specifically, were the team that was going to land him this offseason. That seems premature, but it’s fun.
But now that Correa has officially opted out of his contract with the Twins and hit free agency again, the Cubs talk is going to return.
At least so says insider Jon Morosi, who reported on MLB Network when talking about where the free agent shortstops might go: “(Correa)’s overall market value is back to being roughly where it was a year ago, and I look at a team like the Cubs. They’ve always been linked to him in the past a lot. I think the Cubs and Correa will be one of those pairs we’ll probably talk about for weeks to come.”
Yes. Please. I’d like that.
I think it’s easy enough to surmise that Morosi is right, even if it’s not quite confirmation that the Cubs are going to aggressively pursue Correa. I tend to think they will – I think they really like him, I think they want one of these top shortstops, and I think they also like that he’s no longer attached to draft pick compensation – but I wonder if they will first make some smaller moves to improve the roster’s outlook for 2023 so that they can make that part of the pitch.
In other words, while I could see Cubs-Correa chatter picking up soon, I wouldn’t expect him to be a guy who signs quickly.
Correa, 28, is coming off his best offensive year since 2019 (.291/.366/.467/140 wRC), and his second straight season playing at least 136 games. The defensive metrics were down for him at shortstop, but it’s always hard to know what to make of one-year drops like that, especially in a new organization where you have shifts being coordinated differently.
That’s not as much of a concern for next year, of course, with extreme shifts going away. But still, Correa’s defensive ability – he has been a stud in the past, to both the eye test and the metrics – is a compelling part of the package for the Cubs, because the ability to have Nico Hoerner at second base is huge in a shift-free world. That’s an elite tandem up the middle, which is all the more important if the Cubs have a pitching staff that skews toward contact-management.
I’m belaboring the point, which you already know: I really, really want the Cubs to go hard after Carlos Correa this offseason. You can’t guarantee that you’ll land a guy even if he’s your top target, but that’s how aggressive I think the Cubs should be. He’s still young. They have the money for 2023, and they have clean books going forward. Correa could be a key bat for this Cubs lineup, bringing a combination of power and contact. And the multiplicative effect that adding his defense could have in the infield is not insubstantial.