Breaking Down the Free Agent Shortstop Market
The shortstop is often considered one of the most taxing positions on the field. They have always been expected to be leaders on the field. In recent years, however, their offensive contributions have been of increasing importance. There are 26 shortstops in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In my lifetime, Ozzie Smith, Robin Yount, Alan Trammell, Cal Ripken Jr., Barry Larkin and Derek Jeter have been among the best at this position.
The Class of 2021
It seemed like 2021 was the year of the free agent shortstop. Following the 2021 season, there were a number of big names on the market that signed big deals. There was Trevor Story, who left Colorado and signed a six year, $140 million deal with Boston. Corey Seager left the LA Dodgers and signed a 10 year, $325 million contract with the Texas Rangers. Javier Baez left the Chicago Cubs and signed a six year, $140 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. And Carlos Correa of the Astros decided to leave Houston to sign a three year, $105.3 million deal with the Minnesota Twins — including an opt-out after year one.
It’s Shortstops Again in 2022
Once again, many of the top free agents on the market in 2022 are shortstops. Outside of Aaron Judge, there’s probably not a more high profile crop of players than this cluster of shortstops. Here’s a look at who’s available:
Carlos Correa (Twins): The 28 year old Puerto Rican opt-ed out of his three year contract with the Minnesota Twins after just one season. The Twins might have missed the postseason, but Correa posted strong numbers in the land of 10,000 lakes. He’s likely looking for a long term deal with a contending franchise.
Trea Turner (Dodgers): The Dodgers let Corey Seager go in 2021, will they now let go of Trea Turner? Turner earned his first Silver Slugger award in 2022. If they don’t resign the 29 year old Turner, it’s very likely the Dodgers go after one of the other high profile shortstops.
Dansby Swanson (Braves): While there is plenty of speculation that Swanson will stay in Atlanta, there remains a possibility that he follows the best contract option. Swanson is an Atlanta area native who earned his first Gold Glove this season. At age 28, he’s become the teams clubhouse leader with the departure of Freddie Freeman in 2021.
Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox): The 29 year old received his fifth Silver Slugger award with the Red Sox in 2022. The Sox decision to sign Trevor Story to a six year deal could make it easier to forgo signing Bogaerts. However, Xander Bogaerts is a longtime Boston fan favorite and a critical part of their World Series Championship teams.
By the Numbers
All four of these shortstops enter their free agent below the age of 30. This would seemingly make it less likely that any of them will receive longer that a six year deal. Yet, all of them are also entering, if not already in their prime. They’ve posted, perhaps not coincidentally, productive offensive numbers this season.
- Correa: 22 HRs, 64 RBIs, .291 BA, .834 OPS
- Turner: 21 HRs, 100 RBIs, .298 BA, .809 OPS
- Swanson: 25 HRs, 92 RBIs, .277 BA, .776 OPS
- Bogaerts: 15 HRs, 73 RBIs, .309 BA, .833 OPS
When you compare all four shortstops, based on their 2022 season statistics, it would be difficult to decide which would be the most desirable. While the edge defensively might go to Dansby Swanson given his recent Gold Glove season, Carlos Correa received the award in 2021.
Who Needs Who?
All this being said, it’s entirely possible that two or three of these players end up resigning with their current teams. Both Carlos Correa and Xander Bogarts are choosing to opt-out of existing contracts, which could make them less likely to resign with current team. Both Swanson and Turner, given their current teams are the Braves and Dodgers might have a higher likelihood of resigning. That doesn’t mean they will.
In recent days and weeks, several teams have expressed a desire to pursuit these top free agent shortstops. Among them are the NL Champion Phillies, San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs. There’s also rumors that the Yankees and Mariners could be in the mix. That’s potentially nine teams, vying for these four players. There’s also the 32 year old Jose Iglesias, who had a strong year with the Rockies, who one of these teams might sign to a short term deal.
Let the bidding begin!