No-Go: Carlos Correa signs with the Twins for six years, $200 million
The deal could escalate to $270 million over 10 years
It wasn’t a Merry Correa-mas, after all.
After nearly a three-week negotiation between the Mets and the agents for Carlos Correa, perhaps the most fascinating free agency whirlwind in the history of baseball ended on Tuesday with the star shortstop pivoting back to the Minnesota Twins, agreeing to a six-year, $200 million contract which could escalate to $270 million over ten years, according to multiple reports.
The deal of course is pending a physical.
After originally agreeing to a 13-year, $350 million contract with the Giants in mid-December, Correa took a physical in San Francisco, and on the day the Giants had planned a press conference to announce Correa as their new franchise shortstop, the club backed out of the agreement over reported concerns with Correa’s physical.
But Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, pivoted quickly to the Mets and several other clubs, according to the agent, and was ultimately able to hash out a 12-year, $315 million with Mets owner and CEO Steve Cohen while he was vacationing in Hawaii.
Boras told reporters at Yankee Stadium before Christmas there were no issues with Correa’s health, “whatsoever,” although suggested there was a concern on the part of the Giants over the broken leg Correa sustained in 2014 while sliding, requiring the player to have surgery.
Correa hasn’t spent any time on the injured list since resulting from any difficulties or hinderances from the break, although he had a brief scare with his leg on a slide in 2022 while he was with the Twins.
As a rookie in 2015, Correa played in 99 games for the Astros. He has appeared in 136 games or more three times during his seven-year career, and only missed time in 2022 after being placed on the COVID-19 injured list in late May. He did spend time on the injured list in 2018 with a bad back but had received treatment for the condition. He spent time on the injured list in 2019 with a fractured rib as well, but has played in 342 of a possible 386 games in the three seasons since - he played in 58 of 60 possible games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, 148 games in 2021, and 136 games in 2022.
However, after undergoing a two-day physical in New York in late December, the Mets reportedly shared the same injury concerns as that of the Giants which gave the Mets pause on the original terms of the contract. But according to the New York Post, the two sides were willing to work through the concerns and negotiate a new deal.
In the end, the two sides reportedly could not agree on adjusted language of the original 12-year agreement. The Mets were willing to make a guaranteed six-year, $157.5 million commitment to Correa and make the final six years of the deal vest based on time spent on the field. In addition, the Mets wanted Correa to undergo an annual physical centered around the area of concern in his ankle.
The Twins were willing to guarantee an additional $42.5 million, and so Correa - as any player would be expected to do - took the better offer.
During the process, the Mets were reportedly seeking - as they should have - protective language in the contract which would alter the value of the deal should Correa miss significant time on the injured list due to an injury to his ankle. But between the two camps and lawyers for both, the two sides could not agree on the parameters and definition of such an injury or the amount of guaranteed money over the life of the contract.
It is a disappointing ending to a rollercoaster, month-long slog of a negotiation between the big spending Mets and an All-Star shortstop who, with the original agreement with the Mets, was willing to shift to third base and join a star-studded roster in pursuit of a championship.
There is no question the Mets roster is not as good right now as it would have been with Correa. And, Mets owner and CEO Steve Cohen knows the Mets are short a bat on their roster.
“We needed one more thing, and this is it,” Cohen told the Post immediately following the agreement with Correa on December 21.
However, and understandably so, the Mets simply could not enter into an agreement they deemed too risky as a result of a major injury to Correa’s leg.
Perhaps the injury may never rear its ugly head again, but it’s important to note the Mets were not alone in their reservations resulting from a physical after a decade-long agreement had been reached. In addition, while Minnesota will guarantee Correa an average of $33.33 million per year over the next six years, they pulled their reported original ten-year, $285 million offer and replaced it with a higher dollar, shorter-term scenario for Correa.
Such a strategy should sound familiar in Flushing.
Of course, what adds to the disappointment is the fact both Cohen and Boras went on record discussing and celebrating the agreement, that which proved premature to say the least and should not have happened.
This is the reason why.
Perhaps this could all mean the Mets will show a willingness to pursue Manny Machado (assuming he opts out of his deal with the Padres) next winter and take on a similar risk to that they were originally willing to do for Correa.
It is also worth mentioning that despite it all and Correa appearing to be Steve Cohen’s white whale, he and the club were able to demonstrate a resistance to temptation and the risk associated with Correa, even if it’s the unpopular decision in this case.
So, what’s next?
The Mets still need to procure more offense. Many of the original options the Mets could’ve considered before this situation with Correa came about have vanished. They could still consider Adam Duvall, a right-handed power bat although his career-splits don’t necessarily indicate a specific fit. He has historically been a low-average, high-power bat from the right side and was a big part of Atlanta’s championship run in 2021, a season in which he totaled 38 home runs and a league-high 113 RBI. He was limited by a wrist injury which hampered his performance last year, something which required season-ending surgery in July. But he could prove to be a great value for a team like the Mets as he looks to potentially re-establish a market for himself in a year.
Perhaps there’s a trade to be made as well, although the Mets have been reluctant to move top prospects and Correa going elsewhere changes the calculus on their ability to move those prospects as well as major league pieces from their roster.