Major League Baseball teams can’t sign free agents right now. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still some rumors being leaked out and one of the big ones we heard about this week is that the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Correa are both interested in each other. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago reported that the Cubs have serious interest in landing Correa, but that they don’t want to meet his asking of a 10-year deal to make it happen.
The ZiPS projections are out for all of the teams in the National League Central except for the Milwaukee Brewers, who won the division in 2021. Obviously with free agency halted, and plenty of quality players out there still awaiting deals, those projections are going to change as teams begin to add more players to their rosters. But for now, here’s what Dan Szymborski, the creator of the ZiPS projections, had to say about the four teams thus far and their status:
- St. Louis Cardinals: Let’s call them an 85-90 win team
- Cincinnati Reds: Around .500
- Chicago Cubs: Mid-to-high 70’s win team
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Unlikely to be competitive
While we don’t know what the Brewers project to be exactly, chances seem good that they’ll be in that range with the Cardinals and above the other teams in the division. Projections are just that – projections. They are a guideline to start with for expectations. Teams will often outperform or underperform those projections. Players break out, players get hurt, acquisitions take place, sometimes you just win a lot more 1-run games than you lose (or the other way around) – you play the games for a reason.
The Cincinnati Reds, as things stand right now, look to be the 3rd best team in the division. They are within the right range to be competitive for both a wild card spot or the division if a few things go their way. But the stronger the other teams get, the tougher it is for a fringe contender to have enough things work out in their favor to climb up to true contender.
That brings us back to Carlos Correa and the Chicago Cubs. MLB Trade Rumors projected his deal this offseason to be a 10-year deal for $320,000,000. ZiPS projects him to be a 5-win player in the 2022 season. If Chicago were to sign him then that probably puts them right in line with the Cincinnati Reds in the projections as a team and it also puts the Cubs into that “if things go a little bit right” range to be competitive in the division.
Landing a star player, and that’s what Carlos Correa is, certainly moves the needle for any team. But if the Cubs can figure out how to land Correa, he could help change how the division plays out. For the Cincinnati Reds, who aren’t expected to make any big free agent deals will that kind of move leaves them with a much smaller margin for error or randomness or injury or underperformance by anyone if they still want to remain competitive.