Cubs seal 1-year deal with shortstop Simmons

March 15th, 2022

MESA, Ariz. -- With the transaction freeze over and the Cubs having multiple holes on the roster to fill, manager David Ross let out a laugh Friday when asked if bringing in a shortstop was on the team's to-do list.

"Well, there's a good one behind me," Ross replied.

Over Ross' shoulder, Cubs infielder was gloving ground balls on his first day in camp. On Tuesday, the Cubs finalized an agreement on a one-year, $4 million deal (plus incentives) with veteran shortstop .

Cubs starter Marcus Stroman -- signed to a three-year, $71 million contract on Dec. 1 -- has been trying to recruit star free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa. When baseball's lockout ended on Thursday, Stroman tagged Correa in a tweet that read, "Come through and let’s have Wrigley jumping my dawg!"

As the Cubs balance their long-term vision with trying to remain competitive in the National League Central in 2022, Correa may not be a realistic target, barring a possible willingness to sign a short-term deal. In the immediate picture, Simmons offers some protection at a position of need for the Cubs.

Without any additions, Hoerner and (acquired from the White Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade last season) project to be the starters at shortstop and second base, respectively. The duo arrived together on Friday and went through an informal workout at the Cubs' complex.

One issue facing the Cubs is the fact that Hoerner and Madrigal combined to play 98 games in 2021 due to injury issues. And while they both offer high-contact bats for a lineup in need of that attribute, Ross would likely need to build in days off, or find ways to upgrade the defensive alignment, throughout the upcoming season.

When he is not at shortstop, Hoerner is a plus defender at second base and is being considered for action in center field this year. Madrigal is likely limited to second. Adding Simmons gives Ross an elite defender to help mix and match as he sees fit.

Last season, the 32-year-old Simmons hit .223/.283/.274 with three homers and 31 RBIs in 131 games for the Twins. Defensively, he ranked second in defensive runs saved (15) and fourth in Statcast's outs above average (16) among all MLB shortstops.

Simmons is a four-time Gold Glove Award winner with a .265 average and .683 OPS in parts of 10 seasons in the Majors with the Braves, Angels and Twins. He has a .702 OPS in his career against left-handed pitchers, compared to a .676 OPS in his career against righties.

Shortstop is hardly the only position on the Cubs' list of unfinished business right now. Before Opening Day, Chicago will be on the hunt for bullpen help, offensive upgrades (outfield is one area to target) and possibly more depth behind its main rotation options.

"I leave that stuff up to the front office," Ross said. "We communicate regularly. They're up there in their offices kind of hunkered down and working on just filling out the rest of the roster."