Premier free agent shortstop Carlos Correa is a wealthy man in limbo while the players and owners try to sort out their differences. But while the Puerto Rican super star can’t agree to a new deal during the lockout, he continues to tease fans with public sightings and social media posts.
Right out of the gate after the World Series, Correa was seen having breakfast in Houston with A.J. Hinch, his former skipper who now pilots the Detroit Tigers. The rumor mill was underway and the Tigers eventually made an aggressive offer to Carlos of 10 years and $275 million. That bid was politely declined. Then after baseball shut down, speculation surfaced linking Correa to the Chicago Cubs, a team with plenty of resources, especially after last year’s massive salary dump. Time for another hint of interest.
“When they traded everybody and you look at a couple of games after that, it (Wrigley) was still sold out,” Carlos signaled in a tweet on December 17th. “I was like, these fans are great. So yeah.”
Then just after Christmas, Correa and his family were spotted in Los Angeles. In a well circulated photo, his nephew was wearing an Angels cap, and fans went into a frenzy. It wouldn’t be out of character for Arte Moreno, 75, the billionaire Angels owner, to try and lure Correa to Anaheim. The club needs a shortstop and Carlos would bolster an already potent lineup. But that other team in Los Angeles, the ex-world champion Dodgers, also need a shortstop after losing Corey Seager to the Texas Rangers.
Then there’s the two east coast rivals, the Red Sox and the Yankees. Correa has a connection in Boston with manager Alex Cora, the former Astros bench coach largely responsible for the cheating scandal. But Cora’s shortstop is Xander Bogaerts, a star in his own right and not likely to move from a position he’s worked hard to master. Correa would fit nicely in New York, but would certainly get the Bronx Cheer there for his participation in the Houston “dirty deeds.” Besides that, Carlos got himself in more hot water for his comments about the beloved ex-captain Derek Jeter. Correa won his first Gold and Platinum Glove Awards last season, largely due to a relatively new statistic called defensive runs saved (DRS). So on a live Facebook podcast hosted by fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Baerga, the slick fielding Correa didn’t have many kind words for the Yankee icon.
“How many Gold Gloves did Derek win … five?” he asked Baerga in Spanish. “He didn’t deserve to win any. Do you know what his DRS was for his career? Negative 160.”
So what teams actually have a shot at landing the services of Carlos Correa? First of all, it’s clear that he desires a deal at least equal to Seager, who signed with the Rangers for 10 years and $325 million. And he probably increased those chances by recently hiring Scott Boras as his new agent. In review, the Cubs have the ability to match that figure. But Carlos likes to win and with Chicago in a complete rebuild, he won’t be making Wrigley his new home. The Tigers have an improving club and with Hinch in the picture, Boras could entice Detroit management to sweeten their initial offer. That however, is also unlikely.
The problem here is that the longer owners and players union drag out their negotiations, the tougher it will be for Correa and the other remaining top free agents to secure that mega contract. Another issue with Carlos is his chronic back problems which has put him on the IL several times during his career. He’s 6′-4″, which is tall for a shortstop and the injuries could linger. That could be a red flag in trying to draw up a long term, lifetime agreement in a short period of time.
The good news is that Correa is only 27 and just approaching his prime. In a worse case scenario, Carlos could ink a one year contract with a contending team and test the waters again next winter. That would put the Yankees and Dodgers in the driver’s seat, with the Angels a competitive force as well. Then again, so would the Astros.
Boras also represents Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Lance McCullers, and it’s no secret that Correa is pretty close with all three players. Justin Verlander is back for a one year, $25 million agreement with an option for 2023. Correa earned short of $12 million in 2021, so I can see him giving the go ahead for a similar pact as Verlander, but only for one year. Then Boras can go to the other three clubs and ask for $30 million, which would exceed Altuve’s salary. If that doesn’t pan out, then Houston wins the bidding war and the Astros become frontrunners to dominate the American League.
That’s how I see things being played out in the short term. It’s only a matter of time until Carlos Correa gets his dream deal, but the chances of it happening this year are slim to none. That means it’s all up to Scott Boras, and his new client will no longer need to drum up potential employment.