Cubs

Where Cubs could look for shortstop need post-lockout

Cubs

The hot stove is turned off with MLB in a lockout and teams not allowed to negotiate or make any big-league signings and trades.

But although Cubs trade rumors and free agent rumblings are at a standstill, it’s not too early to look at who’s available for them to potentially pursue after baseball’s work stoppage ends.

The Cubs entered the offseason with starting pitching on top of their priority list. They addressed that with two veteran additions in Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley, and their focus will shift to other needs post-lockout.

“I would not rule out continuing to look for innings,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said after the Stroman signing. “But that said, I think we’ll certainly turn our attention elsewhere on the roster more.”

Including the infield.

“It’s definitely going to be a focus,” Hoyer said. “Infield defense is always important, but that's certainly something that we'll talk about a lot over the next few weeks.”

The Cubs rotation will be led by three contact pitchers in Kyle Hendricks, Stroman and Miley. Adding a surefire everyday shortstop will be a top priority post-lockout.

So, who’s out there?

Carlos Correa

Correa is and has been the top free agent shortstop this offseason, in a class also including Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Javy Báez — the latter three having already signed. 

 

The Cubs reached out to Correa before the lockout, according to Houston reporter Mark Berman, among a handful of other teams. Stroman, after finalizing his deal with the Cubs, already sent Correa a recruiting message on Twitter.

Correa’s on-field fit is clear. He’s an All-Star hitter and a good defender who won his first Gold Glove Award in 2021. At 27, he could help the Cubs now and be a core centerpiece as their top prospects reach the big leagues in coming years.

Whether the Cubs go to the top of the market for his services is the question. Correa could command a deal bigger than Seager’s 10-year, $325 pact with the Rangers. 

Trevor Story

Story is the next best shortstop still on the market. He’s a two-time All-Star and has two Silver Sluggers on his mantle — with a caveat of playing at hitter-friendly Coors Field with the Rockies. Story has distinct home/road splits in his career.

He rates well in key fielding metrics, including plus Defensive Runs Saved totals in each of his six seasons, but has dealt with arm injuries in recent years. He dealt with an elbow injury in 2021 but told NBC Sports Chicago this past summer that injury is behind him.

José Iglesias, Jonathan Villar

He had a rough year with the glove in 2021, but Iglesias is regarded as one of the game’s better defensive shortstops. He’s a contact-oriented hitter and it likely would only take a one-year deal to land him.

Villar’s versatility could offer the Cubs different matchup possibilities. He can play shortstop, third and second base but doesn't have the track record Iglesias has at short.

If we look outside free agency, there’s shortstops the Cubs could try and land via trade.

Nick Ahmed is an elite defender with two career Gold Gloves. He’s always been a glove-first player and is coming off a bad offensive season for the rebuilding Diamondbacks. He’s owed about $18 million total over the next two seasons.

Perhaps the Rangers make Isiah Kiner-Falefa available after signing Seager and Semien to deals worth a combined $500 million over 17 years. Kiner-Falefa won a Gold Glove at third base in 2020, moved to shortstop last season and had another strong year defensively.

Kiner-Falefa, 27 next March, is arbitration eligible through 2023.

Whether it's these players or any others, the Cubs will cast a wide net as we head toward spring training.

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