Ken Rosenthal may have been dropped from MLB Network for daring to point out that Emperor Manfred isn’t actually wearing clothes, but the esteemed media maven remains gainfully employed elsewhere. He’s still with FOX Sports and The Athletic, the latter of which sees him presiding over the outlet’s baseball coverage. That includes contributing to The Athletic Baseball Show Podcast, where Rosenthal recently shared thoughts on the Cubs’ remaining plans for the offseason.
The primary topic of conversation was whether Carlos Correa would accept less than 10 years to join the Cubs, who reportedly hope to convince him to sign for seven years. We’ve already laid out why that is highly unlikely and how the report in question could very well be a matter of the team trying to shine up its spendthrift image, but Rosenthal provided a little more context for the matter.
We’ll actually go in reverse order of what he said on the pod because I think it’s more interesting given what we’ve previously discussed about Correa.
“I can see them signing a whole bunch of guys to shorter deals. Kind of like the 2013 Red Sox, if you go back to that,” Rosenthal explained. “And then going about it that way, trying to stay competitive, while building up the farm and all of that.”
The general concept he’s espousing here is anything but novel and has actually been stated more or less verbatim by Jed Hoyer, but that Red Sox reference is interesting. As you may recall, that team from two years after Theo Epstein’s departure went from last place in the AL East the previous season to World Series champs after jettisoning a bunch of bloated contracts and loading up on several shorter deals.
It’s actually funny to look back now and see how many of those players — David Ross, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino — had Cubs ties from either before or after that season. What’s more, manager John Farrell would go on to see all three of his sons Jeremy, Shane, and Luke — either pitch or coach in the Cubs organization. And it’s impossible to overlook how the Sawx signed Jonny Gomes while the Cubs recently added Yan Gomes.
When you put it all together, it’s pretty obvious Hoyer is using Ben Cherington’s old playbook. Or, you know, it’s all just a series of coincidences…that cannot be ignored. Something else that cannot be ignored is that such a strategy would not seem to signal the desire to go big for Correa.
“Shorter deals, that’s the key phrase here,” Rosenthal said. “If indeed the Cubs are going to take that course, I don’t expect that they’re going to get Correa done. And I know fans are going to think, ‘Well, maybe Correa will sign for shorter, because this has lingered and now he’s going to be available and a lot of the bigger free agents have signed, it’s going to be a mad rush with all the free agents.’
“But I don’t see that happening. And I don’t see Carlos Correa seeing his price drop simply because there was a lockout.”
Again, that last part is more of the same when it comes to what pretty much everyone believes will happen and doesn’t really push the conversation in a new direction. Potential could exist for a reunion with an outfielder on a shorter deal, which I’ll be discussing in another piece, but the Cubs appear to be heading in a direction that will keep them out of the top of the market.
Provided that direction involves them stepping on the competitive gas pedal in a big way for 2022, I don’t think too many of you will mind if they don’t make a huge splash.