CHISportsNation

Holy cow, did my previous plans to upgrade go up in flames during the last ten days. First, Rafael Devers agreed to an eleven-year contract extension with the Red Sox. This put an end to the discussion that the Cubs could be at the front of the line to trade for Devers’ expiring contract in July.  Then, Carlos Correa completed the first step of my pipedream by walking away from the his agreement with the Mets. However, he did so by walking right back into the waiting arms of his former Minnesota Twins.  That deal is official now finally putting an end to the biggest storyline of the offseason. Can the Cubs still upgrade at the hot corner though?

Trades

The immediate answer is no.  There is nobody on the free agent market that could upgrade the position from their current duo of Wisdom and Morel.  Furthermore, the Cubs still need to round out their bullpen so it is looking like they are done adding to the offense.  A change at third would most likely only happen via a trade later in the season.

Expiring Contracts

Javier Báez is coming of the first season of a six-year deal with the Tigers.  Why is the counting as an expiring contract you ask? Our old friend has opt-out built into his contract following the 2023 offseason.  The Tigers are most likely not going to be contending come July.  With that opt-out hanging over their heads, they may look to move Javy so that they can maximize compensation.  Báez didn’t have a great 2022.  One month is looked like he had his stuff together and the next would be the opposite.  Everyone knows what Báez is capable of on defense.  He could handle the move to third base.  Should he not exercise the opt out, the Cubs would have him at a low cost (compared to the contracts being given our this offseason) through the 2027 season.

Matt Chapman is set to become a free agent after the 2023.  Like the Tigers, the Blue Jays could look to set Chapman free before the risk of losing him to the open market.  Acquring Chapman gives you Gold Glove caliber defense at third base.  He doesn’t hit for high average but has a career OPS of .797 and can hit the ball over the wall.

The big fish of potential expiring contracts is Manny Machado.  Like Báez, he holds a player option following this season.  An in-season trade for Machado is highly unlikely though as the Padres are expected to contend.  The only way I see that trade happening is if the wheels completely fall off for the Padres. We might have to wait for free agency to open up before seeing how that plays out.

Team Controlled Players

The Angels will be battling Texas for third place in the AL West.  Former star third baseman, Anthony Rendon, has failed to live up to his contract at this juncture. This has been due to injuries as he has not played in more than sixty games in a season since moving to California.  Should Rendon be able to stay on the field during the first half the season, the Angels could look to move on from that contract.

Kyle Farmer was traded by the Reds to the Twins in November.  The return of Correa causes a jammed up infield and Farmer could be seeing the bench.  Farmer can handle the bat some. He doesn’t quite have the bat of the Cubs current options but could potentially be an upgrade on the defensive side- which happens to be the theme of the offseason for the Cubs front office.

Ryan McMahon showed some potential at first glance.  Colorado likely won’t be competing so they could potentially look to sell some pieces at the deadline  Like you should do before acquiring any Rockies batters, he needed a closer look.  McMahon seems to benefit from his home games in Denver.  Colorado has another potential third baseman on the roster that is supposed to be playing left field for them. Kris Bryant probably shouldn’t be mentioned here as he just signed with Colorado before last season. He did, however, spend most of last season injured and you never know what a losing team might be looking to do at the trade deadline.  Especially when it comes to the Rockies.  We aren’t too far removed from them trading Nolan Arenado to St. Louis for scraps.

Current Options

In Patrick Widsom, you know what you are going to get.  High pop, high strikeouts, and okay defense.  Christopher Morel is more of a question mark.  You have to remember that Morel was called up directly from Double-A and isn’t as seasoned as some of the rookies that made their debut last season or even some that will get called up this season.  Morel could take a step(s) forward and harness all of his raw talent.  If he can put everything together, it makes all of this moot and he locks down third base for his for years to come.  No matter which way any of this discussion goes, all we can really do at the moment is wait to see how it all plays out.


Featured Image: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

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