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With Carlos Correa Off the Market, What Does This Mean for the Cubs?

With Carlos Correa off the market, the dream of seeing him in a Cubs uniform is dead. Where should the Cubs go from here?

Carlos Correa Cubs
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The constant refreshing of Twitter is over, for now. Star shortstop Carlos Correa has agreed to a contract with the Minnesota Twins. The deal is for three years worth $105.3 million, which includes opt-outs after the first two years. Correa was the most highly sought after free agent remaining on the open market. The Twins are getting a former World Series Champion, Rookie of the Year, two-time All-Star, and last year’s AL shortstop Gold Glove Award winner.

This is a significant move for the Twins. In addition, it’s also very surprising. Among the teams rumored to be interested in signing Correa, there was little-to-no noise surrounding the Twins. They jumped headfirst into the open market after making trades with the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, and Cincinnati Reds, signaling they mean business this upcoming season.

While there are concerns about his ability to stay healthy, Correa’s talent is unquestioned. When he’s on the field, he’s one of the league’s best shortstops. Last year, Correa led all shortstops with 21 defensive runs saved. That figure was tied with catcher Jacob Stallings for most of any position.

As for his hitting prowess, Correa certainly brings the lumber. He doesn’t strikeout much (18.1 percent), walks a lot (11.7 percent), and makes a lot of hard contact. Imagine looking at a player’s .279/.366/.485 slash line and saying he underperformed. That might be the case here. Correa’s .296 expected batting average was 17 points off his actual number. In other words, Correa could be looking at a monster 2022 campaign, especially with a max exit velocity of 116.4 MPH, which sat in the top three percent of the league last year.

Where Do the Cubs Go From Here?

Is it Story time? Not literally. However, former Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story remains a free agent. He would be a perfect fit with the Cubs with their glaring need in the middle infield. Just like Correa, Story is a two-time All-Star. However, Story is also a two-time Silver Slugger winner. Story has been a consistent force in the Rockies’ lineup for the past six years. It’s honestly mind-boggling how the Rockies did nothing with him. They didn’t trade him. They didn’t extend him. Instead, they simply let him walk once his team control years expired.

Sifting the web, you’ll see plenty of Story to the Boston Red Sox rumors heating up. If Correa, one of the biggest remaining free agents on the market, was willing to sign a three-year deal with a high AAV, including opt-outs, maybe Story will too, especially after a down year in 2021. That’s a strong possibility, but the Cubs should at least make a phone call and see what he’s looking for – the type of contract and how much money.

As mentioned, Story is a consistent force to reckon with at the plate. He is a career .272/.340/.523 hitter with 26 home runs on average per season. However, last year was his second-worst from a production standpoint since his sophomore slump in 2017. He slashed .251/.329/.471 with 24 home runs, 75 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases. For a down year, that’s more than acceptable. The question is, can Story produce outside of Coors Field?

We know how much of a hitters paradise Coors Field is because of the altitude in Denver. With that said, there are significant discrepancies in Story’s batting numbers playing at Coors Field compared to playing on the road. Story has hit .303 at home and .241 on the road for his career. He has only 20 more at-bats at Coors Field, yet he’s hit 32 more homers there. His strikeout rate jumps almost six percent higher on the road than at home – 24.7 percent to 30.6 percent. Also, his wRC+ (weighted runs created +) is far above average at home with a 125 wRC+, and a tick below average at 98 on the road. 100 is league average.

Of course, Rockies hitters typically hit better at home than on the road. But, that significant drop-off is concerning, and something every team interested in signing Story needs to look at. Something that might go overlooked, at times, is the hangover effect from playing at Coors. In other words, as hard as it is for opposing teams to adjust to the altitude in Colorado, it’s equally as challenging to re-adjust when you leave Colorado to play road games. I’ve had great success over the years in fantasy baseball fading the Rockies in their first road game coming off a homestand.

Perhaps this could be negatively impacting Story’s overall road numbers. If he were playing all of his home games elsewhere without traveling back and forth between atmospheric changes, Story’s overall numbers might level out, and there wouldn’t be a ‘Story sucks on the road’ narrative.

Should the Cubs Pursue Trevor Story?

They certainly should for the right price, contract length, and terms. If Correa is basically on a one-year prove-it deal factoring in the opt-outs built into his contract, why should we expect Story to get a lengthy deal? The Cubs already have options at shortstop with Nico Hoerner and newly signed additions Andrelton Simmons and Jonathan Villar. However, none of those players offer the same upside and stability as Story at the shortstop position.

The big question is, will the Cubs do it? I have a hard time believing they will, but the fanbase has made it clear they want the organization to make a big move. Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki might sell tickets, but another addition like Trevor Story could make this team a sneaky wildcard contender.

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