Carlos Correa‘s status has been the biggest storyline of the winter, though it’s long since passed over to punchline status — LOL, Mets — as the shortstop remains unsigned. He was in a suit as he prepared to meet the press in San Francisco when he learned that his deal was on hold due to an issue with his medicals, then his pact with the Mets was similarly stalled.
The whole thing has taken on the tabloid tenor of quickie celebrity weddings, especially now that the Twins have re-engaged with Correa. According to Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic — Does Ken just automatically get included in all the big rumors, or how does that work? — talks between Minnesota and Correa’s camp “have begun to accelerate.”
Baseball’s new version of Liz Taylor predictably opted out of his three-year, $105.3 million deal with the Twins after one season, then turned down their 10-year, $285 million offer to join the Giants. When that fell apart, the Mets came in with $315 million and owner Steve Cohen crowed about the coup before his folks got a look at Correa’s physical.
The issue at hand for both the Giants and Mets is actually a lower leg, specifically a fractured right fibula Correa suffered as a 19-year-old minor leaguer in 2014. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair both the fracture and accompanying ligament damage and has not missed any time since for injuries or discomfort related to the procedure. There is some concern, however, that prolonged wear and tear could cause problems toward the back end of a contract stretching more than a decade.
That’s where the Twins could turn into a real option, since they’ve already employed Correa and are presumably comfortable with his physical fitness. Granted, the original deal wasn’t long enough for the long-tail injury repercussions to matter. Their latest offer was also for a shorter period than either the Giants or Mets offered, so perhaps the feeling is that the long-term risk is sufficiently mitigated.
Because this is a Cubs blog, it’s incumbent upon me to note that a not-insignificant number of fans have popped up with each new development in the Correa saga to say the Cubs should sign him to a Twins-like deal. Not the decade-long offer, but the deal he just had with them. They do need a third baseman, which is where Correa would/will play with the Mets, and it’s possible Tom Ricketts would be willing to exceed the CBT threshold for one year knowing they’ve got so much money falling off the books for 2024.
The biggest stumbling block is that Correa’s leg issue isn’t magically disappearing after one year, and it could even be more of a red flag moving forward because he’s getting older every day. That means the likelihood of scoring a coveted decade-long contract decreases all the time, thereby reducing the potential value of signing something shorter. Unless he and Scott Boras believe it’s possible to continue stringing together a series of contracts for 1-3 years and taking advantage of inflated AAVs along the way.
Others have mentioned the idea of a swellopt, a concept Boras himself created a few years back that effectively combines a shorter show-me deal with a club option component that can swell the total value. For example, a team could offer Correa $120 million for three years with a club option for three more at $125 million that must be exercised after the second year. If the club doesn’t exercise the option, Correa can opt out and elect free agency.
Another form of that structure could see Correa having a player option for three years and $100 million if the club doesn’t pick up its option. That would all be subject to approval, of course, and I’m just spit-balling some numbers here so don’t take any of this as much more than a thought exercise. If the Cubs were to kick the tires on Correa, and I don’t believe they have or will, they’d probably have to get creative with the offer.
All of that said, it appears as though the Mets may yet end up keeping Correa in the fold. According to former second baseman Carlos Baerga, who has dropped multiple scoops this offseason, the two sides are agreeing to contract revisions that will need to be approved by the MLB Players Association. That presumably means adding language to the contract that would indemnify the Mets in the event that Correa has further issues with that surgically-repaired leg.
Baerga posted this information to his Instagram account late Monday night, saying official news wasn’t expected until Tuesday afternoon. He added that “Mets fans can start breathing again,” which might not carry much weight if Baerga hadn’t recently broken the news of Rafael Devers‘ extension with the Red Sox. And who knows, maybe he really is just blowing smoke.
At this point, I just want some actual resolution to the whole thing so I don’t ever have to see another suggestion that the Cubs should get Correa.