I wonder if I’m gonna wind up getting into an Obsessive Watch on all four of the free agent shortstops. We know the Cubs are interested, and we also know how impactful such an addition could be. So it’s pretty hard for me NOT to obsess about every little thing I see on any of the four.
The Phillies, fresh off a World Series run and very much in win-now mode, figure to make a big addition or two this offseason. I suppose a part of me hoped they would sit out the top of the free agent shortstop market because of the expected costs, and the big contracts they already have on the books. Good on their ownership if they don’t sit it out.
That said, you do have to be a little cautious in this early part of the offseason about “market building” work being done by agents and teams. For example, this report is consistent with Bogaerts’ agent wanting to get another big-spending, big-market team in the minds of other interested teams. It is also consistent with the Phillies, who are believed to actually really want Trea Turner, trying to remind Turner that they have other options with “legitimate” past connections.
Basically, I am just taking stock of reports like this for now. I tend to think the shortstop market is not necessarily going to play out very quickly. You *might* see Dansby Swanson signing on the earlier side *if* he’s re-signing with the Braves. But the problem there? If you’re Swanson, do you really want to jump early if there are teams that might want you at a higher price tag … but only if they can’t get their first choice? And if that’s so, even Swanson might have to wait a long time to sign.
In other words, someone is going to have to jump first, and that’s pretty hard to do when there are four free agent shortstops in a similar tier. Last year in this situation, it was Corey Seager and the Rangers going first, mostly because the Rangers offered him an absurd, no-brainer, accept-this-right-now contract. Then we saw Marcus Semien and Javy Báez sign soon thereafter, with Carlos Correa and Trevor Story waiting until after the lockout.
I’d be surprised if any of the shortstops sign before Thanksgiving, but if one does, it’s possible we could see a second one signing quickly, as there might be a team that REALLY wants to make sure it gets one of its top two options.
My instinct is that the Cubs have their preferred order, but their biggest preference is to not go beyond six years on any of these guys – thus they are likely to wait patiently, rather than set the market.
Oh, the other big potential hold-up in this market? Aaron Judge. A suitor or two out there might really want Judge *OR* one of the shortstops as a fall-back, but not both. And, in that case, if you’re one of the shortstops, you probably aren’t signing before Judge unless it’s a no-brainer, accept-this-right-now contract.
Circling back to that: I wonder if this Bogaerts rumor is popping up because the Phillies are trying to make that kind of offer to Turner, but he’s not accepting yet. It’s the one specific team-player combo that we *think* is sufficiently connected that you could see an early move.