Yesterday, we took a look here at the Cubs’ estimated payroll and luxury tax figures for 2022.
It would seem that the Cubs have plenty of room to add a top hitter free agent, if they so choose, and many think a shortstop should be on the Cubs’ shopping list, whenever the lockout is lifted and “shopping” is again permitted.
Here’s a short list of shortstops who are free agents and could be starting players in 2022, along with their ages:
Carlos Correa (27)
Jose Iglesias (32)
Andrelton Simmons (32)
Trevor Story (29)
Let’s take a look at those four.
Obviously one of the best, if not THE best, hitter free agents on the market due to his performance and age. I wrote last week about reports connecting Correa to the Cubs, and that perhaps the Cubs could get him on a high-dollar, short-term (two or three years) deal, allowing him to go to free agency again at age 29 or 30.
That didn’t seem realistic to many of you and you could be right.
Having thought about this further, if Correa demands a 10-year deal or something along those lines, the Cubs shouldn’t do it unless they are 100 percent serious about “going for it” in 2022. Which might be the case — Correa’s presence on the Cubs would certainly give them a much-improved offense not only for 2022, but many years beyond, including seasons when players now in A ball in the system will be MLB-ready.
Correa, despite some injury history and his connection to the Astros cheating scandal, is still a prize. I am less convinced now than I was a week ago that the Cubs should go for him.
I’m going to bring up the Coors Field effect, so ready yourself for it.
In doing so I am going to bring up the example of Nolan Arenado.
In Arenado’s eight years with the Rockies, he hit .293/.349/.541, which included these splits:
Now, what did Arenado hit in his first year in St. Louis? .255/.312/.494. Those look suspiciously like his road numbers in his eight years in Colorado. That’s still a good player — but it’s not the otherworldly great player he appeared to be as a Rockie.
Now let’s do the same for Trevor Story. Overall in six years with the Rockies, Story hit .272/.340/.523. That includes these splits:
Story’s home numbers are roughly comparable to Arenado’s in Denver. His road numbers are... worse. The Cubs already have a guy who hits like Story’s road numbers: Patrick Wisdom, who hit .231/.305/.518 in 2021. I don’t think they need to spend $25 million a year or more on another one.
Hard pass on Story for me.
I was hoping the Cubs would sign Iglesias when the Angels released him last September. Instead he wound up in Boston, where he hit very well (.356/.406/.508) in a small sample size (64 PA). He came to the Red Sox too late to qualify for their postseason roster, which is too bad — they could have used him.
Iglesias turns 32 next month and would not be any sort of long-term fix for the Cubs. His value for most of his career has ben his defense, but he was worth negative bWAR defensively in 2021, one of the biggest reasons the Angels got rid of him.
I’m kind of ambivalent about Iglesias and certainly wouldn’t give him more than a one-year deal.
Like Iglesias, Simmons’ value is almost entirely in his defense. 2022 will, as for Iglesias, be Simmons’ age-32 season.
He posted strong defensive numbers again in 2021 and was worth 2.3 bWAR for his defense alone.
He was never a great hitter and in 2021 was terrible: .223/.283/.274 in 451 plate appearances. He was one of only two players in 2021 (Kevin Newman, the other) to post an OPS under .600 in at least 450 PA.
So if the Cubs were to sign Simmons, it would likely be with the understanding that they’d have a black hole at one lineup spot. This could be mitigated somewhat if the universal DH is instituted.
The Cubs definitely need strong defenders behind a pitching staff that, as in 2020 and 2021, relies on weak contact to get outs. So there’s one reason Simmons could be useful. I still wouldn’t give him more than a one-year deal.
What would you do?
The Cubs should sign the following shortstop...
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