Amid the skepticism offered about the likelihood the Cubs will go 10+ years on Carlos Correa, Sahadev Sharma today mentioned that the Cubs could go defense-heavy this offseason if they don’t go the Correa route.
There would still need to be a significant bat added somewhere, somehow. I am never going to let that go. But, yes, there is a path for the Cubs to at least become a pretty excellent pitching-and-defense type of team for 2023. If that’s going to happen, though, there is a guy the Cubs pretty much HAVE to have as part of the mix (The Athletic):
The Cubs are going to add more pitching and they almost certainly will find another defensive stalwart to make sure Yan Gomes isn’t getting the bulk of the innings behind the plate. But if this is the plan — and in listening to Hoyer and watching this market unfold, it appears to be the most likely — signing Dansby Swanson feels imperative.
Adding a shortstop has always made sense. The farm system has gotten deeper, but Cristian Hernandez and Kevin Made, both quality shortstop prospects, are quite young and years away if they ever arrive. The position is deep with available talent this winter and moving Hoerner to second is something the young infielder is willing to do and could ultimately make for a better overall team.
Fans want the more sexy choice in Turner, Bogaerts or Correa. Two of them are no longer options of course. But it shouldn’t be ignored how big of an upgrade Swanson would be. The Cubs would be bringing in a Gold Glove shortstop and shifting Hoerner to a position where he was a Gold Glove finalist in 2020. They’d create a situation where they’d have some of the best up-the-middle defense in baseball and in turn help their pitching staff become an even stronger group.
The logic is sound (did I mention that the Cubs would still need a bat?). There was always a great reason for the Cubs to add a top shortstop this offseason, which is why we’ve been obsessing over. Carlos Correa makes the most sense, because he’s got the glove AND the bat. Swanson makes a decent amount of sense, but it’s debatable whether you can project a reliably above-average bat going forward. Mostly, this is why I’ve landed on being happy if the Cubs land Swanson in the end, even if I’ll still have plenty of questions about the rest of the roster. (Oh, and if you go this route, you HAVE TO add another outstanding defensive catcher.)
Against that backdrop, Jon Heyman reports tonight that the Dodgers may be a legitimate suitor for Swanson:
Is this being put out to apply some pressure to the Cubs and Braves, or is this about the Dodgers sincerely considering Swanson at this juncture? Maybe he’s the one shortstop that would consider their kind of short-term, high-AAV deal since he’s 28 and he’s not Correa?
The Dodgers DID lose a shortstop this offseason in Trea Turner, so it’s not as if there isn’t a one-to-one positional opening. Sure, folks figured the Dodgers would spend elsewhere and allow Gavin Lux, a potential stud, to take over at shortstop. But the Dodgers have the pieces available to coordinate a shortstop addition and allow Lux to play, for example, second base. They are never afraid of having “too many” starter-quality players.
I guess this bears monitoring, especially if the Cubs aren’t actually going to be serious about Correa (they are “still in,” but we’ll see how involved they stay), and are going to be serious about trying to max out pitching and defense.