Obsessive Top Shortstop Watch: Turner’s and Bogaerts’ Markets? Swanson or Bust for Braves? Cardinals Going Big? More

We are seeing a modest uptick in activity around baseball here in the early part of this week, but I’d be surprised if that winds up including the top shortstop market. Well, at least in terms of an actual signing this week. My guess is there is a better than 50/50 shot at least one of the four winds up signing at the Winter Meetings, though.

So, in the meantime, what’s going on with the market …

  • Mark Feinsand digs into Trea Turner’s free agency, declaring Turner the best shortstop on the market this year. I tend to think you can make a pretty strong argument for either Turner or Carlos Correa (and I’ve seen the argument for Xander Bogaerts, though I don’t find it persuasive), but hey, if you want to pick Turner I won’t fight you.
  • As for the suitors in Turner’s market, Feinsand lists eight unsurprising teams – Phillies, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Twins, Orioles, Cubs – and the comment on the Cubs is fairly generic: “Another team in the market for a shortstop, the Cubs are believed to be ready to make a big signing from this talented class. Nico Hoerner played a solid shortstop in 2022, but Turner would provide a different level of impact atop Chicago’s lineup.”
  • The Phillies and the Giants seem like big teams to watch out for on Turner, if I’m going with my gut.
  • The reported market on Xander Bogaerts from Marino Pepén, who covers the Red Sox:
  • So, again, we’re seeing big overlaps in the groups, with the Padres a team that kind of flits in and out of these reports (I think it’s CONCEIVABLE, since you never rule anything out from A.J. Preller, and since Bogaerts might wind up playing second base or Ha-Seong Kim might move or Fernando Tatis Jr. might wind up in the outfield). The mention of the Cardinals is more in passing, though we know there have been reports that they are at least considering this part of the market.
  • The ZiPS for the Red Sox just came out, by the way, which means we have ZiPS projections for Bogaerts in 2023, his age 30 season: .293/.365/.469/124 OPS+, not a lot of defensive value, and 4.0 WAR. Obviously the lack of defensive value might be a big separator from the other three free agents, but there is also the age factor. Bogaerts is hardly old, but even at 30 years old, you’d expect a decline in performance from prior years. This past season, Bogaerts hit .307/.377/.456/134 wRC+, and had what may have been an aberrant spike in his defensive value. Thus, a whopping 6.1 WAR. Maybe ZiPS is being too pessimistic, or maybe that was just not a sustainable year for him.
  • Braves beat reporter David O’Brien was asked in a Q&A about what the Braves’ plan is at shortstop with respect to keeping Dansby Swanson or trying something else. It sure reads to me like the expectation is that the Braves would happily keep Swanson if they could get him back on their terms (which was reportedly a guarantee not much more than $100 million), but they don’t want to top the market on him. I’m reading between some lines there, thanks to luxury tax considerations (the Braves will go over if they sign Swanson, and will go over the next tier if they add from there and/or pursue a different top shortstop). So it seems to me, the general expectation out of Atlanta is either that the Braves will get Swanson back on a relative bargain, or they are out of the top shortstop market entirely.
  • Meanwhile, a big column push for the Cardinals to ball out and sign Trea Turner:
  • It just seems so unlikely to me that the Cardinals would ink a $300 million deal right now for a shortstop who is heading into his 30s, given the even older ages of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, but you can’t argue that they would be loooooaded for at least the first few years of that deal. Which doesn’t even mention the imminent approach of Jordan Walker, one of the best bats in all of the minor leagues. (Seriously, we’re going to hate seeing him … for a long time … ).
  • Just a thought I had when continuing to pine for Carlos Correa:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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