The Rundown: How Carlos Correa’s Comments Portend Cubs’ Extension Efforts, Former Cubs Get Rings Tonight, Time to Freak Out?

Chief among the concerns for the Cubs moving forward — outside of their .500 record after 12 games — is whether and when they’ll extend their young core to keep it together beyond the players’ arbitration years. As they’re wont to do, the Cubs have been playing it pretty close to the vest when it comes to extension talks, though it’s inevitable that we’ll start hearing more soon. Or maybe it’s not and we’ll just get some announcements out of the blue.

Or maybe the organization will choose to let their stars go all the way through the arbitration process and attempt to sign them in free agency. Given that such a strategy would mean a much higher relative cost and the near certainty of losing at least a couple of them to other teams, though, that doesn’t seem likely.

As we have seen in the past with Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, you can often get away with paying a player less in terms of average annual value when you extend him. Many of you probably already know this, but the whole idea is that you’re buying out some of his rookie contract and/or arb years at a much higher rate than he’d have otherwise gotten, thereby earning you a discount on a few of what would have been free agent years.

Consider that Kris Bryant’s $1.05 million salary is the highest ever for a second-year player. If the Cubs were to offer him something like $150 million over eight years, he might actually end up earning more over that time than he would through the arbitration process — though he does have that extra arb year as a Super 2 player. Then again, Bryant could be looking at $30 million AAV in 2022 and beyond and might be willing to gamble on that.

Rather than turn this into a game of pin the contract on the donkey, I want to look at what Carlos Correa and his agent said recently about the prospect of accepting a long-term extension at this point. It should be noted that Correa is younger than guys like Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, college bats who were drafted at a more advanced age, though he’s in the same draft class (2012) as Albert Almora and Addison Russell.

Correa’s agent, Greg Genske, told FanRag’s Jon Heyman that his client “is never going to do an (early) multiyear extension.” Heyman also quoted one of the shortstop’s friends as saying that Correa’s mentality has always been that he’s going to play out the process when it comes to arbitration and whatnot.

But when asked about the situation, Correa himself told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan that he’s willing to listen to reasonable offers. Specifically, he said, “The price has got be right, you know what I mean? And it’s got to be early. Once I get to arbitration there’s no turning back.”

The situations are different at many levels, but I could see this being similar to the mentality espoused by the young Cubs. I have no doubt the Cubs will try to lock these guys up, and I’m guessing it’ll have to start with Bryant when they do. Like slotting in the draft process, you start with the biggest and best in order to set the market and you move down from there. And the way Russell is hitting, and at a premium position, you have to figure he’s next.

But we’ll save further talk of this business for another time.

Wood, Hammel, Soler to receive rings tonight

Since the Royals don’t play the Cubs in Chicago this season, three former Cubs now wearing a different shade of blue will return to their old stomping grounds on their new team’s off-day to receive their World Series rings. It’ll be a little weird to see Travis Wood, Jason Hammel, and Jorge Soler all back at Wrigley, but I’m sure it’s a cool moment for them. Perhaps a little bittersweet in a way, too.

But as cool/weird/nostalgic as Monday night will be, it’s going to pale in comparison to Dexter Fowler being honored prior to the June 2 game against the Cardinals. That one’s going to provide some serious earth-scorching takes.

Cubs are .500, do we freak out yet?


But what about…?


I mean, the bullpen…


If it’s mid-May and we’re still looking at a team that’s treading water, maybe then we can start questioning things. A sweep at the hands of the Pirates definitely stings, but that’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes. Remember when the Cubs kind of fell apart right at the end of the first half last season? Yeah, how did that work out?

More news and notes

  • After preaching improved defense, the Cardinals may be the worst in MLB
    • Tied for last in DRS (-13)
    • Matt Adams in left might be worse than Matt Holliday
  • Dexter Fowler is slashing .143/.222/.163
    • Still early, but that’s bad
    • How long to the good vibes last?
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