Chances of the Chicago Cubs reuniting with shortstop Javier Baez were shut down on Tuesday morning as reports had Baez signing with the Detroit Tigers as the two sides agreed to a six-year contract worth $140 million. With Baez no longer an option, the Cubs will be forced to look elsewhere if they hope to acquire a shortstop this off-season.
This is certainly the winter to be in the market for a shortstop. Beyond Baez, the off-season began with the likes of Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, and Trevor Story all among the notable free agent shortstops. Both Seager and Semien have signed lucrative deals with the Texas Rangers but both Correa and Story remain on the market.
Correa is believed to have been the best free agent shortstop on the market this off-season. After Seager signed his 10-year, $325 million contract with the Rangers on Monday, the belief is that Correa’s deal is going to be north of that. The Tigers were believed to be the ideal match for Correa given the connection with manager A.J. Hinch but the Baez deal likely squashes those rumors.
The question now becomes where does Correa land? If one report is true, it could be with the Cubs.
Carlos Correa is the perfect option for the Chicago Cubs but the question of cost may prevent a deal from happening.
This is not the first time that Correa has been connected with the Cubs. While speaking with NBC Sports Chicago during the Houston Astros’ post-season series with the Chicago White Sox, Correa expressed his desire to play in Wrigley Field while referencing his pre-draft workout he had at Wrigley Field.
"“I was like, wow, I would love to play here every single day in the big leagues,” Correa, the Astros’ All-Star shortstop, said during a conversation with NBC Sports Chicago during the workout day in Chicago between playoff games against the White Sox.“Obviously, I’m focused on winning a championship with the Astros,” Correa said. “But I’ve heard a lot of players talk about how great it is to play at Wrigley Field. And I’ve never gotten to play there at the major-league level yet. Actually, a lot of players say it’s the best stadium to play at.”"
Not only would Correa be a great fit in Wrigley Field, the former Astros’ shortstop would be a great fit with the Cubs in general. With the Astros’ last season, Correa had a line of .279/.366/.485/.364 with 26 home runs and a wRC+ of 134. Correa was a near 6-WAR player last year as he generated a 5.8 WAR last season per Fangraphs.
Correa checks all the boxes for the type of position player that the Cubs should target. The theme that Cubs’ president Jed Hoyer has established for this off-season is “intelligent spending”. Hoyer has promised that the Cubs would be active this winter but in an intelligent manner. Correa fits the bill as he is an elite shortstop at the age 27 and young enough to be a part of the next Cubs’ championship core.
The issue is whether or not Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts will allow Hoyer to spend what it takes to sign Correa. After Seager essentially broke the shortstop market with his $325 million, the expectation is that Correa will land a deal north of that figure. Such a deal would be the largest free agent contract that the Cubs have ever issued. That would appear to be a large pill to swallow considering the Cubs’ have spent under $50 million on free agent position players since 2018.