SAN DIEGO — There are four great shortstops on the free-agent market, but there’s a major two-man competition going on for who’s No. 1 — and who’s going to get the No. 1 deal — between Carlos Correa and Trea Turner.
It should be interesting as both markets are aided by the presence of unexpected teams. It’s no surprise the Phillies are in on Turner (and the other three top shortstops). But word is the often surprising Padres, who already have two excellent shortstops, are eying Turner as well as Xander Bogaerts, who’s ranked third among the shortstops. The Padres’ presence is especially interesting in that Turner is one of the few big talents San Diego has let get away in a regrettable trade years ago.
The incumbent Twins are going hard to try to keep Correa, who’s also drawing interest from the surprising Cubs and many others.
Each of the top two shortstops has his backers. Turner possesses a great speed-power combo you rarely see at shortstop. Correa is an elite defender with a big-time postseason résumé who’s 15 months younger and has no qualifying offer attached. Both presumably are shooting to be in the $300 million range (or more).
Correa may also hold another slight advantage since word is Turner would prefer to be on the East Coast, all things being equal. To that end, Turner actually said he will consider any locale and loved his second season in Los Angeles after his agency tried to stop his deal there the year before.
The Dodgers, Twins, Red Sox and Braves all need to fill a shortstop hole due to the free agency of those two plus Boston’s Bogaerts and Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson, who also may prefer to play in the East.
The market includes several West Coast teams, including the Giants, Padres and possibly Diamondbacks and Mariners. That could aid Correa and Bogaerts since there’s no perception of geographic preference, beyond Bogaerts’ willingness to take a “hometown” discount deal once with the Red Sox.
There are about 10 teams at least surveying the market, which may include the Cardinals, Orioles and Yankees, who probably are interested only if the unthinkable happens and superstar Aaron Judge leaves.
The Phillies know Turner from his Nationals days. In Washington, where he was a teammate of Philly star Bryce Harper, and he could fill a leadoff spot and allow NL homer leader Kyle Schwarber to move to the middle of the order. One more caveat: Phillies honcho Dave Dombrowski has ties to Bogaerts from his Boston days.
Swanson, who recently met with the Phillies, could make sense in Chicago as fiancée Mallory Pugh is a soccer star with the Chicago Red Stars.
The big battle, however, should come down to Correa and Turner.