The Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals division rival, could pursue Aaron Judge and other star free-agent shortstops in the offseason.
While we are still two months away from the trade deadline, that hasn’t stopped the 2022-2023 offseason rumors from trickling in. And the early buzz could have a massive impact on the St. Louis Cardinals and the National League Central.
First, Bob Nightengale of USA Today talked to a general manager who *guaranteed* that the Chicago Cubs would sign one of the top free-agent shortstops that include Trea Turner, Carlos Correa (if he opts out) and Xander Bogaerts (if he opts out). Then Jon Heyman of the New York Post listed the Cubs as a potential destination for Aaron Judge if he were to leave the New York Yankees.
Based on these two reports, it’s pretty clear that the Cubs plan to spend big this offseason. Because when there are two national reporters already connecting them to stars that are soon-to-be free agents, there’s smoke. And when there’s smoke, there’s typically fire.
So how does this impact the Cardinals? Adding only one of the above players would not make the Cubs a World Series contender. But it would make them a much tougher divisional opponent and could make the NL Central a three-team race between the Milwaukee Brewers, Cardinals and Cubs.
Just look at their career numbers:
Turner: .303/.358/491 with an .848 OPS, 110 home runs, 380 RBI, 216 steals, 123 OPS+.
Correa: .278/.356/.480 with an .836 OPS, 138 home runs, 508 RBI, 128 OPS+.
Judge: .279/.386/.564 with a .950 OPS, 180 home runs, 411 RBI, 154 OPS+.
Judge, of course, is in the midst of a career season after turning down a $200+ million extension from the Yankees before the 2022 season. He’s hitting .308/.386/.664 with 22 home runs and 45 RBI in 56 games and is prominently in the conversation as the best player in baseball. His 1.050 OPS would be a career high and his highest since 2017 when he hit 52 home runs and 114 RBI while slashing .284/.422/.627.
That said, signing Judge or any of the above players will require the Cubs to spend at least $250 million, perhaps more than $300 million. It remains to be seen if they will do it, but the early signs suggest that they’ll be involved in those markets – and that’s something the Cardinals will surely be keeping their eyes on.