Cubs focusing on star shortstop (or two?) with Turner off market

December 6th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The Cubs are sorting through a long list of needs this offseason, but trying to land one of the star shortstops on the open market remains a priority. One possibility was erased from the board on Monday with Trea Turner reaching a blockbuster deal with the Phillies on the first day of these Winter Meetings.

The Cubs -- along with the rest of the teams bidding on this winter's talented shortstop class -- now have a crucial data point for that sector of the market. The National League-champion Phillies handed the 29-year-old Turner an 11-year pact worth a reported $300 million.

"Sometimes it just takes some deals at the top coming off to sort of break the ice and free people up to do deals," Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said in his suite at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Monday night.

The big question hovering over the North Siders has been whether the team is willing to move out of its comfort zone to reel in one of the shortstops. It is a group headed by and Turner, with stars and  also up for grabs.

The Cubs have been linked to varying degrees with all four players at points this offseason -- with a recent uptick in reports and rumors involving Bogaerts and Swanson, in particular. Without getting into specifics, Hoyer acknowledged that Chicago has "a lot of offers out there," and expected late nights for the front office over the next few days.

"Whether things come to fruition or not, you never quite know," Hoyer said. "But it won't be through [a] lack of putting offers out there and trying."

The Cubs also are looking for pitching help (in both the rotation and bullpen), while also searching for reinforcements at catcher, center field and first base. Hoyer emphasized the importance of working "in many markets" rather than trying to resolve the shortstop situation before anything else.

"If you think you're going to hone in on one thing," Hoyer said, "you're going to miss."

MLB Network's Jon Morosi noted on Monday that the rival Cardinals have also been a surprising addition to the field of suitors for Bogaerts and Swanson. Morosi added the D-backs to the mix for Bogaerts, though Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told media on Monday that Boston is "not getting to the point where we're closing the door on Xander."

Bogaerts, 30, is a four-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion with the Red Sox. That includes in 2013, when he was teammates in Boston with Cubs manager David Ross, Cubs first-base coach Mike Napoli and former Cubs ace Jon Lester.

Last season, Bogaerts hit .307/.377/.456 (.833 OPS) with 15 homers, 38 doubles, 73 RBIs, 84 runs and a 131 OPS+, indicating he was 31 percent above average offensively. That falls in line with his production over the past four years: 133 OPS+.

By comparison, Swanson's production over the past four seasons combined has netted a 103 OPS+ with a .261/.325/.444 slash line. Last year, though, Swanson was better offensively (.277/.329/.447 with 25 homers, 32 doubles, 96 RBIs and a 115 OPS+, while playing elite defense (MLB-leading 21 outs above average at short).

Then there is the 28-year-old Correa, who could command a contract that exceeds the total value of Turner's agreed-upon pact with the Phillies. Last year, Correa hit .291/.366/.467 with 22 homers and a 140 OPS+ for the Twins. He was a Gold Glove finalist (along with Bogaerts) in '22, after taking home Gold and Platinum Glove Awards in '21.

Hoyer was asked if the falling of the Turner domino could lead to an uptick in pace for the rest of the shortstop market.

"Unclear," Hoyer said. "I don't know if that impacts the speed of guys signing. I think that each of those guys will rightfully want the right deal. And when that happens, they'll probably pull the trigger. But I don't know how much this will impact the speed of that."

Hoyer added that "urgency was happening" in the days leading up to these Winter Meetings on multiple fronts. That "spilled over" into Monday, putting the Cubs in a position where they are currently far more focused on the free-agent market and meetings with agents than any trade talks.

"There's been a lot of deals coming in," Hoyer said. "There's been, obviously, numbers that in some cases are probably higher than some projections. So yeah, so far, it's been a pretty aggressive market."