I said it last night when the report came out that the Cubs had met with/were meeting with representatives for Josh Bell, Trey Mancini, and Martin Perez, who are solid and interesting players in their own rights, but I understand that they aren’t the sexiest names this offseason. Just because the Cubs are taking meetings on those guys this week, and just because those are the ones that get reported, that HARDLY means it’s the only thing the Cubs are doing, or even that those players are a “focus.” It’s just a note on the types of guys the Cubs might be looking at, and a nod to how widely they are casting the net.
In other words, you shouldn’t freak out about those names, just like you shouldn’t freak out about the ones Gordon Wittenmyer now reports. Per Wittenmyer, the Cubs have met with super agent Scott Boras and his top staff to discuss, among others, shortstops Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts.
The Chicago Cubs *do* have interest in these top shortstops. That part is not debatable. What is debatable is what kinds of contract structures the Cubs would be willing to accept, and whether any of the four free agent shortstops is going to be open to it (or be forced into it by the market). Multiple reports – and historical precedent – suggest the Cubs really don’t want to go any longer than five or MAYBE six years for these guys, or any player.
But in an era where there are now some players open to super high annual value deals with shorter annual terms, I just don’t think we can say “ope, the Cubs won’t go to eight years, so they’re definitely out.” I also don’t know that we can entirely rule out the possibility of, say, a seven year deal for the Cubs if the situation otherwise feels perfect to them. There’s just no reason to OPEN the offseason by announcing your intentions there, especially if your strong preference is to keep things shorter-term, and higher-annually.
My instinct is that most or all of the four shortstops will be able to secure 6+ year deals with healthy AAVs and maybe even opt-outs that allow them to have their cake and eat it, too. If the Cubs won’t participate at that level, then they probably don’t get one of these guys. That would be a deeply disappointing outcome to me.
But if the Cubs were willing to talk about AAVs that head toward record-setting territory? I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest, when the rubber meets the road, that a hypothetical five-year, $200 million offer will be seen as competitive with a seven-year, $250 million offer (or whatever).
Don’t get lost in the numbers. Or even the names. To me the takeaway is that the Cubs are serious about this shortstop market, and at least seeing what is possible on shorter-term deals. Why not try that tack first? And stay on an agent’s call list if there are other developments in the market?