Phillies, shortstop Trea Turner strike $300 million deal; your move, Cubs

As of late Monday, top shortstops Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson were still available.

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Shortstop Trea Turner agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Shortstop Trea Turner agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Ashley Landis/AP

SAN DIEGO — Conversations in the marble-floored hotel lobby at once turned to shortstop Trea Turner as reporters, agents and team personnel checked their buzzing phones to see the news Monday: Turner and the Phillies had agreed to terms on an 11-year, $300 million deal.

Just like that, the seal on the shortstop market was broken, with Turner becoming the first of the big four free-agent shortstops off the board.

Now it’s time for the Cubs to make a statement.

‘‘Sometimes it just takes some deals at the top coming off to sort of break the ice and free people up to do deals,’’ Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said on the first day of the winter meetings.

He added that did not see Turner coming off the board as an indication of how quickly the shortstop market might move, citing individual preferences and expectations.

The Cubs weren’t expected to make the first move on the free-agent shortstop market, but they have been players in the shortstop sweepstakes.

As of late Monday, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson were still available. Even before Turner committed to the Phillies, the Cubs were showing the most interest in Bogaerts and Swanson.

Of the two, Bogaerts — a five-time Silver Slugger — comes with the more consistent track record at the plate. He has hit .295 or higher in each of the last four seasons. Swanson, a Gold Glover, has the better defensive profile.

Meanwhile, Correa — who can’t be counted out — is expected to garner the largest financial commitment. He re-entered the free-agent pool by opting out after the first year of the three-year, $105.3 million deal with the Twins last offseason that made him the highest-paid infielder by average annual value in major-league history.

‘‘Being strong up the middle is really important,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘And I think that’s obviously something we’re talking about a lot.’’

Those ‘‘up the middle’’ positions also include catcher and center field, other needs on the Cubs’ roster.

Hoyer said the Cubs have made a lot of offers to free agents but wouldn’t specify how many. The Cubs still plan on talking with other teams about possible trades, but at this point almost all of their focus is on free agency.

Hoyer has repeated his desire to ‘‘compete’’ in 2023. What better way to signal to the Cubs’ fan base — not to mention the rest of the free-agent class — that it’s not just talk than to sign a big-name free agent?

The Cubs have the large market and financial flexibility to make it happen. They also have a lot of work ahead of them.

A source confirmed the Cubs pursued former White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu in free agency. Now that Abreu has signed with the Astros, inking a three-year contract worth about $60 million last week, the Cubs’ most obvious avenues for making a statement are on the shortstop and starting-pitcher markets.

The latter has picked up speed in recent days.

On the heels of Jacob deGrom signing with the Rangers for five years and $185 million late last week, three more established starters agreed to new contracts in quick succession.

On Sunday, Mike Clevinger signed a one-year, $12 million contract with a mutual 2024 option with the White Sox. On Monday, news broke that Clayton Kershaw was returning to the Dodgers (one-year, $20 million contract) and that Justin Verlander had agreed to terms with the Mets (two-year, $86 million deal with a vesting third-year option).

Your move, Cubs.

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