The Rundown: Correa Should Be Cubs’ Top Target, Yankees May Have Interest in Contreras, World Series Shifts to Atlanta for Games 3-5, PETA Leans on MLB

When the Cubs signed Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million contract back in 2014, it signaled that the organization was taking a big step toward building a championship team. The historic deal also represented the notion that a major free agent believed Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were putting the right pieces in place to break the Cubs’ century-plus championship drought. Many Cubs fans are hoping Hoyer and new sidekick Carter Hawkins will make a similar splash this winter.

But does such a signing have to be a pitcher? Carlos Correa is saying all the right things to put the idea into Hoyer’s head that the Cubs could be an option once free agency opens.

“Whatever team wants to win I want to be part of it,” Correa told Jesse Rogers of ESPN. “I want to be part of an organization that wants to go in the right direction and rebuild in the right way and win championships.”

If that isn’t enough to grab a little attention from the front office, perhaps something Correa said near the end of the season is:

“I was like, wow, I would love to play here every single day in the big leagues,” Correa told Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago. “Obviously, I’m focused on winning a championship with the Astros. But I’ve heard a lot of players talk about how great it is to play at Wrigley Field and I’ve never gotten to play there at the major-league level yet.

“Actually, a lot of players say it’s the best stadium to play at.”

If there is one player that makes the most sense for Hoyer and his front office to go all-in on this winter, it’s Correa. He recently turned 27, making him the youngest member of a shortstop group that includes Trevor Story, Corey Seager, and Javier Báez, and he figures to have several prime seasons left. In addition to a decent contact profile and excellent pop, Correa led at all shortstops in defensive runs saved (21) and was fifth in FanGraphs’ Def metric (9.6).

If the Cubs truly want to generate some hot stove excitement while signaling to the league, other free agents, and the team’s weary fanbase that they intend to compete for a championship in the near future, bringing Correa over from Houston is probably the most convincing way to do that. It would also align nicely with Hoyer’s new accounting principles, which include spending intelligently and not forcing a team into contention solely by buying players.

“You have to be really careful. If you use free agency as the way to build the team.” Hoyer said at the presser to introduce Hawkins. “[Otherwise] you’re probably going to get yourself in trouble because you’re committing too many dollars to decline-phase players.”

Though the Cubs don’t quite have the depth to trade for established starting pitchers, the going rate based on recent trades suggests they could go that route if they are willing to part with multiple pieces of their infield and outfield prospects in the lower parts of their farm system. The front office might also consider trading a veteran or two, like Willson Contreras or Ian Happ.

Sure the Cubs could kick the tires on aging pitchers like Justin Verlander or Zach Greinke. Hoyer and Hawkins might also consider younger options, such as Robbie Ray or Marcus Stroman. But Correa checks the same boxes Lester did when he came to Chicago eight years ago: He’s a proven winner, he commands the spotlight in nationally televised games, and he would return credibility to an organization that needs a positive PR shot more than any other major market franchise.

If Hoyer has potentially $70-80 million to spend this winter, and that’s only a guess, he could sign the wunderkind shortstop and still have enough left over to vastly improve the team around Correa. Theoretically, there could still be enough walking-around money to extend Contreras; grab an outfielder on the open market like Nick Castellanos; sign a couple of pitchers from a group that could include Eduardo Rodríguez, Wade Miley, Jon Gray, Steven Matz, Alex Cobb, and Corey Kluber; and/or take a chance on a reclamation project or two, such as Noah Syndergaard or Matt Harvey.

There might even be enough pocket change left over to bring back the beloved Andrew Chafin.

With Correa and Nick Madrigal taking the bulk of middle inning reps, David Ross could deploy Nico Hoerner in a Ben Zobrist-type role. Castellanos and Frank Scwhindel teamed with those guys would give the Cubs enough solid contact to compensate for the obscene 40% strikeout rate of Patrick Wisdom and Jason Heyward‘s propensity to ground into an opposing team’s shift. That would be one hell of an offseason.

So why not Correa? It certainly makes a ton of sense given the team’s minuscule payroll, current makeup, the offseason plan the front office wants to execute, and the shortstop’s expressed desires.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

It’s National Cat Day, and somewhere up in The Great Beyond Ron Santo is smiling because nobody wants to take the job of running the Mets.

At least seven executives have turned down an opportunity to run New York’s National League franchise.

World Series News & Notes

A World Series absent of any real drama will shift to Atlanta for three games starting tonight. A sweep by either team would make Monday the official start of this year’s hot stove.

Luis Garcia will take the bump for the Astros tonight facing Braves starter Ian Anderson. Both teams may use openers in Game 4 and that might mean Greinke, who has worked exclusively out of the bullpen since the playoffs started. Greinke did serve as an opener in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Braves’ organist Matthew Kaminski is Atlanta’s not-so-secret World Series weapon. Kaminski’s song choices for opposing batters have included the “Stranger Things” theme for Wil Myers — his name sounds an awful lot like the show’s Will Byers — to “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” which he plans to play for the Astros’ Michael Brantley.

MLB quietly reinstated disgraced Houston executive Brandon Taubman last year, though there are no indications Taubman intends to return to the sport.

Taubman was fired as Houston’s assistant general manager in October 2019, three days after he issued an explicit tirade toward three female reporters in the Astros clubhouse.

Friday Stove

PETA has asked MLB to rebrand the stadium bullpen because it is insensitive to cows. They suggested a more animal-friendly term, like “arm barn” and I’m ready to quit writing now.

Red Sox catcher Christian Vázquez missed a $1 million bonus by four plate appearances.

The Padres have reportedly hired A’s manager Bob Melvin to replace Jayce Tingler. The 60-year-old Melvin will receive a three-year contract, per sources familiar with the agreement.

Free-agent shortstop Marcus Semien has switched agencies and will now be represented by Scott Boras.

Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto could be planning to strike quickly this winter, potentially signing free agents or trading for players before a new collective bargaining agreement is announced.

Apropos of Nothing

I’m doing a David Bowie thing for Met Gala-themed Halloween party this year and if you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you’ll see plenty of pictures this weekend.

Extra Innings

How have I never seen this photo before? By the way, I will be seeing Van Morrison for the first time in my life on February 12 at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL.


Friday Walk-Up Song

Golden Years by Bowie – Though I’m not a fan of “remember when,” I promise not to get too upset about all the “five years ago tonight” posts on November 2-3. As far as the linked video who would have ever thought an androgynous, white recording artist would be such a big hit on Soul Train? How absolutely kinky.

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