I spent the last four days researching available shortstops and I’ve determined that Dansby Swanson is a perfect fit for the Cubs. Swanson checks all the boxes, including Jed Hoyer’s desire to “spend intelligently.” Going into the exercise, I pushed myself to ignore the shortstop’s early body of work. He was a can’t-miss prospect who had a decent rookie campaign followed by three mediocre seasons, and that type of résumé tends to incorrectly skew our thinking.
Swanson has been much better since 2020, hitting for power and with improved defense. From 2020-22, he finished with a positive Outs Above Average and was first overall with 21 OAA in 2022. Swanson was also named a Gold Glove finalist in 2020 and ’22, so pairing him with Nico Hoerner would give the Cubs a solid double-play combination.
According to Jim Bowden of The Athletic, Swanson is estimated to receive a six-year, $154 million deal ($25.67 million AAV). That’s a legitimate bargain compared to estimates for Carlos Correa (10/$345), Trea Turner (8/$264), and Xander Bogaerts (7/$196). Correa is the only shortstop expected to be free of a qualifying offer, but choosing a long-term shortstop should not be based on savings alone. Intelligent spending means finding value, so let’s see who represents the best deal among the free-agent shortstops.
- Correa: .291/.366/.834, 24 doubles, 22 home runs, 64 RBI, 140 OPS+
- Bogaerts: .307/.377/.833, 38, 15, 73, 131
- Turner: .293./.343/.809,39, 21, 100, 121
- Swanson: .277/.329/.776, 32, 25, 96, 115
If signing Swanson means Hoyer can still allocate funds for a top-of-rotation starter, it’s a no-brainer. Hoerner would be forced to move to second base if Chicago goes in that direction, and the Cubs would also need to address third base if they’re not entirely sold on Patrick Wisdom. Having a guy who has some power and gets on base as Swanson does helps minimize Wisdom’s strikeout rate and poor batting average.
Bogaerts and Turner will be playing in their age-30 seasons in 2023. Correa will be 28 and Swanson is a year older. It makes more of a difference at the end of the contract than it does at the beginning, but Swanson also projects to get a shorter commitment. While a lot of analysts believe the Braves will lock up their shortstop, it hasn’t happened yet. Atlanta does a great job of extending its best young players, so it looks like Swanson fully intends to test free agency.
The Cubs will get draft pick compensation if they tender Willson Contreras a qualifying offer and he signs elsewhere. From my perspective, that makes signing Swanson a priority, if only because it gives Hoyer and his front office more options. The president of baseball operations might be able to pair Swanson with Justin Verlander or Kodai Senga. Another option would be adding one of Chicago’s shortstop prospects to a package to acquire Shohei Ohtani from the Angels.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs are definitely in play for Senga and Turner, but the front office is unlikely to go long enough to convince Aaron Judge or Jacob deGrom to come to Chicago.
- Adding a shortstop and a starter sits atop the Cubs’ biggest needs this winter.
- When it comes to the rotation, the Cubs are going to look for quality innings in free agency. That might mean signing Verlander or Senga or looking at Carlos Rodón, Taijuan Walker, Chris Bassitt, or Nathan Eovaldi.
- Chicago has plenty of bullpen options going into 2023, but many come with significant question marks. Brandon Hughes is the team’s leading closer candidate at the moment. Near the end of the season, Tommy Hottovy said he is inclined to stretch Keegan Thompson out as a starter once spring training begins. Doing so gives the team greater flexibility, but that also means Alec Mills might not be returning.
- Outfield prospect Alexander Canario is going to miss significant time after injuring his ankle and shoulder trying to beat out a grounder. Acquired from San Francisco as part of the Kris Bryant trade in 2021, the 22-year-old Canario hit .252/.343/.556 with 37 homers and 23 steals over 534 combined plate appearances at South Bend, Tenessee, and Iowa.
- Brennen Davis has been shut down in the AFL due to back tightness, further complicating Chicago’s precarious outfield situation. Davis has never played more than 100 games in a professional season. This latest setback has increased concerns about how his body will hold up over the course of a full major-league season.
- Outfielder Yonathan Perlaza, who would have been eligible for minor league free agency after the World Series, has agreed to return in 2023.
- The Cubs fired hitting coach Greg Brown and promoted minor league hitting coordinator Dustin Kelly to replace him.
Odds & Sods
Still the best family Halloween experience of all time.
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) October 28, 2022
Postseason News & Notes
The World Series heads to Philadelphia for three games with the Phillies and Astros tied at one game apiece.
A weather-related rule change occurred the last time the Phillies won the World Series.
MLB postseason television ratings have been extremely encouraging.
Turner could end up signing with the Braves this winter.
The Royals have hired Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro to be their new manager.
The White Sox are the final team seeking a new manager and have ruled out Houston bench coach Joe Espada.
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears lost 49-29 to the Cowboys because Chicago’s defense forgot to fly to Dallas.
- The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, but it looks like linebacker Roquan Smith will be staying with the Bears. David Montgomery and Eddie Jackson are in play, however.
- The Powerball jackpot is expected to exceed $1 billion by today’s drawing. I’ve been counting my quarters all morning, as I need some new patio furniture. A vacation would be nice, too.
- The scariest part of Halloween is dangerous drivers. If you’re driving today be extra careful, refrain from alcohol, and please don’t text friends and family members.
- The city and state of New York are settling lawsuits filed on behalf of two men who were exonerated last year for the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, agreeing to pay $36 million for the wrongful convictions which led to both men spending decades behind bars.
- Popular music has certainly had its fair share of creepy songs.
I was sad to see that Jerry Lee Lewis passed away over the weekend, though there was initial confusion regarding the veracity of the first reports. “Crazy Arms” is a great song and one my father used to love to sing while he Brylcreamed his hair in the morning. To this day I can still smell the hair treatment whenever I hear the song.
Rest in peace, Jerry Lee Lewis. pic.twitter.com/eY2PPnbxoq
— The Beatles Earth (@BeatlesEarth) October 28, 2022
They Said It
- “I think we still feel like it’s important to get [Thompson] stretched out. Being able to have starting depth is always valuable … But having that multi-inning guy — you’ve seen when Justin Steele was in that role when Keegan has been in that role when Adbert Alzolay was in that role last year — it’s such a valuable role to have.” – Hottovy
- ” I think you always want to have some stabilizers in the bullpen for sure. I’d love to think that we can get to a point as an organization where we can almost entirely build our bullpen internally. We’re not there yet. And we’re not going to be there next year. So that will be a focus.” – Hoyer
Monday Morning Walk-Up Song
Happy Halloween, friends, and readers. You might remember this one if you were a fan of the old Dr. Demento radio shows.