Obsessive Top Shortstop Watch: Who's First to Sign? Cubs-Bogaerts Connection? How Many Years for Swanson? Potential Yankees' Pivot? More

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Obsessive Top Shortstop Watch: Who’s First to Sign? Cubs-Bogaerts Connection? How Many Years for Swanson? Potential Yankees’ Pivot? More

Chicago Cubs

Although the offseason hasn’t gained much momentum yet in terms of big-ticket transactions, that’s all expected to change next week at the first in-person Winter Meetings since 2019 (if not sooner).

One of the biggest decisions we expect to see — Aaron Judge picking his new (or old) team – will send ripple effects through the free agent shortstop market, where Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson are all waiting for massive deals of their own.

Let’s start there and get into all the latest free agent shortstop rumors, as we continue to hope the Cubs break camp next season with one of the four in their starting lineup …

  • Although this has been a presumption for a while, Jeff Passan makes it as clear as day in his latest writeup at ESPN: If the Yankees fail to sign Aaron Judge, they’re likely to pivot to one of the free agent shortstops. And they might even act quickly to ensure they get one. I don’t need to tell you that that’s bad news for the Cubs, who don’t need any more competition than they already have. The good news is that Passan has heard that the Yankees are largely expected to re-sign Judge. The bad news is that his his strongest other suitor, San Francisco, could make the exact same pivot towards a shortstop in case of a whiff. And they have pretty deep pockets, too. At least this should all be clearer in about a week?
  • No surprises here, but again, it’s good to get some confirmation and a little extra specificity: Trea Turner and Carlos Correa are expected to get deals “in excess of $250 million,” according to Passan. That may seem obvious, but let’s note two important details: (1) There was at least one guess that made it seem like Correa, at least, might end up in the $230-$250M range. We found that hard to believe, noting that the Cubs would be fools NOT to be the team to hand him a deal in that range. (2) He didn’t say in excess of $300 million, and that feels notable. Before the offseason, there was a belief that Turner and/or Correa would exceed $300 million, but that has slowly trickled down in recent weeks. I’m tentatively expecting them both to fall short of the $300 million mark, absent some creative accounting/deferrals.
  • Notably, Jeff Passan seems to believe that Carlos Correa will be the first free agent shortstop off the board, with an “already excellent” market in place. The Twins get a special shoutout for pushing hard to re-sign and build around the shortstop.
  • Although he’s not going to earn quite as much as Correa or Turner, Xander Bogaerts “should do very well” according to Passan. He’s got suitors in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago (implicitly the Cubs), Arizona, and Los Angeles (implicitly the Dodgers). Normally, this would be a pretty big connection to note for us, but the Cubs have been directly connected to each of the four big free agent shortstops at one point or another this offseason. I will say, however, Bogaerts’ relative price tag does track more with recent reports out of Chicago about what they’re willing to spend this winter/how long they’re willing to go on a deal. So maybe that’s good news? After all, I don’t see them jumping the market for Correa, if he’s really going to be the first to sign. And, although we all have our preferences, it’d be better for the Cubs to get Bogaerts than no one.
  • Of course, if the Cubs do want Bogaerts, they’ll likely have to promise him a full-run at shortstop. Because according to Ken Rosenthal, the Padres tried to get him to move, with no luck:

According to major-league sources, Preller recently asked Bogaerts’ agent, Scott Boras, whether the shortstop would be willing to play other infield positions. Boras said such a conversation did not take place, adding, “Xander is playing shortstop.”

  • Rosenthal says the Padres are also interested in Trea Turner, but it all seems a little crazy to me with Ha-Seong Kim and Fernando Tatis Jr. already on the roster. Signing Turner or Bogaerts would give them three pretty legitimate shortstops. That’s obviously not a PROBLEM (indeed, it’s a luxury) but it’s a weird way to allocate limited resources.
  • Sticking with Bogaerts for a second, Peter Gammons has heard from three MLB sources that Bogaerts has “severed ties” with the Red Sox, and won’t be going back. That could be good for the Cubs if it’s to be believed (though it’s safer to assume that’s just leverage). For what it’s worth, Gammons also believes Boagerts does not want to switch positions. So I guess if you do want him in Chicago, be prepared for Bogaerts to push Nico Hoerner to second base. I say that with a twinge of disappointment, because I think he might actually be the worst defensive free agent shortstop of this particular group (which is far from an insult, mind you!). I guess it all depends on if you believe in the enormous defensive metrics bump Bogaerts saw this past season, and/or how he would work best in a world of limited shifts.
  • Along those lines: According to Jeff Passan’s sources, Dansby Swanson’s deal is expected “to run at least six seasons,” in part because he is the only one of the four free agent shortstops expected to stick at the position through the entirety of his next contract. The lesson there? One way (money) or another (years), the Cubs will have to get out of their comfort zone to land one of these guys this winter.
  • Here’s Jon Morosi adding fuel to that fire:
  • And Buster Olney, as well, albeit slightly less specific:

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Author: Michael Cerami

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