I don’t think there’s much to do with this information beyond finding it interesting. This offseason, and its shortstop class, was a unique thing. Anything you try to extrapolate from those kinds of one-off situations is probably not going to tell you much, or have much broad applicability.
I think the absolute furthest you could go is to conclude that, (1) The Cubs have known they needed more offense in order to field a competitive lineup, and (2) the Cubs do anticipate having longer-term funds available for sizable longer-term deals in the years ahead.
OK, with that said at the top, here’s the information.
First, from Scott Boras, as told to Bob Nightengale, about the Xander Bogaerts free agent pursuit:
“It was just really clear to us there was a separation where Boston was going to go for Bogaerts,’’ Boras said, “compared to where the market was. They probably made a decision they were going to sign [Rafael] Devers, and were going to pay only one of them. So we knew at the forefront that Bogey would be somewhere besides Boston. Minnesota, the Cubs, the Blue Jays, they were really after him. But we kind of knew the Padres’ guy was Bogaerts (after Trea Turner rejected their offer). They wanted that personality, that leadership in that locker room.’’
You may remember that the Cubs reportedly put on some heavy recruitment when it came to Bogaerts, even going as far as putting Jon Lester to work to talk about how great it could be to come from a career in Boston and then have a second act in Chicago. You may also remember that there were rumors, during the Winter Meetings, that the Cubs might try to sign both Dansby Swanson and Xander Bogaerts, with the latter playing third base.
There’s still a little incentive for Boras to bluster at this moment, because he gets to suggest that he created a monster market for his client. But, given the rumors at the time – and frankly, the reported Cubs interest in Bogaerts went back much further than that – I tend to think Boras is mostly just speaking frankly at this point. The Cubs, like the Twins and Blue Jays (really, the Blue Jays, eh? Interesting), were “really after” Bogaerts.
But the 11-year, $280 million deal that Bogaerts ultimately got from the Padres probably blew those other teams out of the water. I can’t imagine the Cubs got particularly close to that, and I am also not sure it would’ve been an ideal use of funds, given that there will always be a budget, like it or not.
Speaking of which, that budget was going to be a factor if the Cubs were going to sign multiple big-time free agents this offseason. That, in turn, was probably part of the reason the Cubs never actually made an official offer to Carlos Correa, instead angling to lock down Dansby Swanson. (Fun fact revealed at the Cubs Convention: Jed Hoyer said the Cubs were trying to get to the final stages of the negotiation with Swanson when they paused before his wedding, which took place December 10. That was the week of the Winter Meetings, and Correa didn’t agree to a deal with the Giants until four days later. So the Cubs had already made Swanson their priority before Correa actually got to that stage with the Giants.)
None of which is to say the Cubs didn’t stay in the loop on Correa, just in case. Remember the reports that, as the renegotiations with the Mets started to deteriorate, Scott Boras had been in communication with other teams? Turns out the Cubs *were* one of those teams.
Patrick Mooney reports that, as talks with the Mets started to fall apart, the Cubs did inquire again about Correa. It sounds like the combination of not wanting to make a huge offer and Correa/Boras’s pre-existing comfort with the Twins in the face of multiple failed physicals, led to the Cubs’ inquiry being mere “due diligence.” But if you were wondering whether the Cubs made that phone call, so to speak, they did.
Again, what do we DO with this information? Not much. Stick it in your back pocket when thinking about large deals the Cubs might try for next offseason – clearly, they have the long-term budget available – but I was already of the opinion that the Cubs had signaled an ability to spend going forward. I suspect they just prefer not to tip over the luxury tax again until next year, all else equal. But if they could’ve landed, say, Bogaerts and Swanson? Sounds like they would have.