If the Cubs are just doing this all for show, they’re doing a pretty damn good job. Shortly before news broke that Trea Turner had agreed to a monster deal with the Phillies, Bruce Levine tweeted that the Cubs have met with all four of the top shortstops. The venerable baseball media maven followed that up with some specifics on the team’s pursuit of Scott Boras clients Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts.
Following up,industry sources said the north siders pursuit of a top shortstop had them meeting with Carlos Correa in San Diego.They had a sit down with Xander Bogaerts ten days ago.stories at @670TheScore and @WatchMarquee to follow
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 6, 2022
As Tony Andracki detailed for Marquee, a group comprised of Jed Hoyer, Carter Hawkins, and David Ross met with Correa in San Diego on Monday. The sit-down with Bogaerts took place 10 days ago and featured Jon Lester and first base coach Mike Napoli in addition to Ross. All three former players have experience with both the Red Sox and Cubs, so they were able to pitch Bogaerts on what it’s like to play in Chicago.
Not that he really needed to hear much, having visited with the Red Sox this past season after watching the Cubs on WGN while growing up in Aruba.
“I was definitely looking forward to coming here,” Bogaerts told Gordon Wittenmyer in July. “I watched a lot of homers hit on the street over there. It’s pretty amazing, just being here.”
Correa has likewise spent a little time in the Friendly Confines, starting with a pre-draft workout that wowed the Cubs. They drafted sixth and were hoping to be able to select the kid out of Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, but the Astros took him with the first pick and the Cubs ended up getting Albert Almora Jr. From the sounds of it, that workout left an impression on Correa as well.
“That was my best workout,” Correa admitted to Wittenmyer last year. “I did the top seven teams in the draft that year, and that one was the most impressive one; I performed the best on that one. And I was really excited about that one.
“I was like, wow, I would love to play here every single day in the big leagues.”
Both Correa and Bogaerts have shared trepidation about joining a rebuilding team, as both are used to winning and would like to keep doing so. That was more of an issue last year, but signing either of them this winter would be a clear sign to the rest of the baseball world that the Cubs are ready to get going again. Hey, that sounds like when they signed another top free agent when the Winter Meetings were in San Diego a few years back.
The Cubs were actually one game better in 2021 than they were in 2014, the season prior to adding Lester. While they also had a much more top-heavy farm system with MVP-level headliners ready to bust out, signing Lester put them on the map for other veteran players and set the tone for what would be the organization’s most successful run in living memory.
That isn’t to say signing one of these two shortstops will put the Cubs back in the World Series within two years, just that spending that big on an elite player isn’t something you do if you’re not prepared to add more. With Turner’s deal setting the bar for Correa and perhaps raising it for Bogaerts, the Cubs should have a very good idea of what they need to do to get something done.
And let’s not forget how Boras praised the Cubs’ strategy and timeline back in November at the GM Meetings. Could we really see a blockbuster on the North Side here soon?