The Astros signed Carlos Correa to the largest contract in team history.
That’s great, right? Not so much.
Correa was given a seven-year contract worth $202 million dollars with an option for another year at $22 million dollars that would make it nearly impossible for him to leave and actually reach free agency like he planned originally.
The “carlos correa” is a highly controversial topic. Many people have an opinion on the case, but not many people are actually aware of all the facts of the situation.
Carlos Correa is a player that has been around for a long time. Carlos Correa is a hit-or-miss player who is prone to injuries.
Carlos Correa is one of baseball’s top all-around players. Carlos Correa is a bit of a snob.
Carlos Correa’s deal is worth $300 million. Carlos Correa is a high-risk bet.
The top consensus offseason free agent went unsigned, despite MLB clubs spending over $1.9 billion on 51 free agents before to the lockout. Correa, fresh off his greatest all-around season, enters free agency as a power-hitting, Gold Glove shortstop in his prime at the age of 27. Correa could anticipate a comparable return to that of Corey Seager, who signed with the Texas Rangers for $325 million a year ago.
Correa, however, is a tough player to assess, as seen by the aforementioned inconsistent opinions. Let’s take a closer look at each of those comments before moving on to his possible destinations.
1. Correa is a once-in-a-generation talent.
Correa was picked first overall in 2012 at the age of 17 and made his big league debut in 2015 at the age of 20. That in itself is a significant indicator of future fame, and Correa hasn’t let anybody down. Correa is sixth among all position players in Baseball-Reference WAR with 34.1, behind only Mike Trout (48.5), Mookie Betts (47.7), Nolan Arenado (38.1), Paul Goldschmidt (35.8), and Manny Machado (35.8) in his seven seasons with the Houston Astros (35.5). What’s more amazing is how those guys rank in terms of WAR per 650 plate appearances:
9.1 for Trout, 7.4 for Betts, 6.9 for Correa, and 5.9 for Arenado. Machado: 5.3 Goldschmidt: 5.4
Correa also ranks 16th in lifetime WAR among all position players through their age-26 seasons since 1961, and that’s without the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season influencing his total averages. Correa is without a doubt one of the finest young players of the last 60 years.
2. Correa is unreliable and prone to injury.
6.9 WAR per 650 PAs is impressive, but it’s also deceiving. Only twice in his career has Correa come close to that mark in a full season: 153 games and 660 plate appearances in 2016 and 148 games and 640 plate appearances in 2021. From 2017 to 2019, he missed an average of 64 games each season due to a damaged thumb ligament in 2017, a back injury in 2018, and a broken rib in 2019. It’s his back problem that has some worried about his long-term capacity to stay on the field long enough to warrant a megadeal contract. What if it comes back?
Aside from the injuries, Correa’s two best offensive seasons were in 2017 (.315/.391/.550), when he played 109 games and the Astros were cheating to steal signs (Correa’s home OPS was 79 points higher, though he still had a.905 OPS on the road), and 2019 (.279/.358/568), when he only played 75 games (and he hit .323 at home compared to .242 on the road). He batted under.500 in his two full seasons, indicating that he was still very good but not dominating at the plate.
Correa has an OPS of.275/.355/.458 over the last two seasons, which is worse than Brandon Crawford, Tim Anderson, and Willy Adames, to name three other shortstops. OK, a bad pandemic-shortened season hurts those stats, but Correa has only batted.280 once in his career and has never hit 30 home runs. Do you want to spend $300 million on an attacking player?
3. Correa is one of the game’s top all-around players.
So he may not be Fernando Tatis Jr. at the bat, but he doesn’t have to be. All he needs to do now is be the player he was in 2021, when he hit.279/.366/.485 with 26 home runs and earned the Platinum Glove as the American League’s top defensive player. He hits for average, power, draws walks, and is an outstanding defender. That’s why, among position players, he was worth 7.2 bWAR, second only to Marcus Semien’s 7.3. That’s a strong contender for MVP.
4. Correa is a bit of a snob.
We recently said that Correa has a lifetime WAR value of 34.1. With a lifetime WAR of 25.1, FanGraphs assigns him a substantially lower value. This is a major distinction:
6.9 per 650 PAs, according to Baseball-Reference. 5.1 per 650 PAs, according to FanGraphs
That’s still a fantastic player, but the gap between an MVP contender and an All-Star is significant. What exactly is going on here? Baseball-Reference uses defensive runs saved (DRS), which adores Correa’s defense (+67 runs saved in his career, including plus-20 in 2021, and above average every season), but FanGraphs utilizes ultimate zone rating (UZR), which isn’t a huge admirer (minus-12.2 runs in his career, although plus-2.9 in 2021). For what it’s worth, Correa was rated in the 98th percentile by Statcast’s outs above average (OAA) in 2021, and if you saw the Astros in the playoffs, Correa surely passed the eye test as worthy of the Platinum Glove. So two of the three measures indicate that Correa is an excellent glove, and scouts will concur. Nonetheless, it’s plausible that Baseball-Reference is exaggerating Correa’s worth.
Apart from his defense, it’s worth mentioning that Correa has only only been in the top ten of the MVP vote once, in 2021. You want someone who can figure in the MVP debate on a yearly basis for $300 million and change, and Correa hasn’t done so.
5. Correa’s deal is worth $300 million.
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In the end, players like this don’t show up very frequently. The first five years of a ten-year deal will cover his age-27 season through his age-31 season, which should be enough to cover the rest of his peak years. Then what? Remember that Semien, who is entering his 31st season, recently received $175 million despite earning almost the same OPS+ as Correa in 2021 (133 vs 131 for Correa)… and he’s no longer a Gold Glove shortstop. So, unless the lockout has unintended consequences, Correa will get his money.
Compare him to other previous free agents/extensions and how they’ve performed coming into their new contracts:
Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million), already in his 28th season, with 5.1 WAR and 650 PAs. Francisco Lindor (10 years, $341 million): 5.2 WAR/650 PAs in his 27th season. Mookie Betts (12 years, 365 million dollars): 7.6 WAR/650 PAs in his age-28 season. Bryce Harper (13 years, $330 million): 4.6 WAR/650 PAs in his 26th season. Manny Machado (10 years, $300 million): 5.5 WAR/650 PAs in his 26th season.
Correa is a high-risk investment.
This is self-explanatory. What if your back troubles resurface? What if he doesn’t hit 30 home runs in his career? What happens if he takes a step back on defense? (It’s worth noting that Correa isn’t a very quick runner, rating in the 48th percentile in 2021.) We’ll go through the history of other megadeals at a later time, but suffice it to say, many of them have failed. The Mets and Angels must already be concerned about their Lindor and Trout investments. While Correa has remained healthy the previous two seasons, given his history, it is certainly not a certainty.
Now that we’ve cleared things up, let’s take a look at Correa’s prospective suitors after the lockout expires.
Payroll for this year is expected to be $220.7 million.
The Yankees and Tigers were seen as the frontrunners to sign Correa when free agency began. After New York moved Gleyber Torres to second base late in the season with the goal of keeping him there going forward, both clubs had apparent vacancies at shortstop. While the Tigers signed Javier Baez, the Yankees have yet to add anybody. The Bronx was deafeningly quiet during the first round of free agency.
The Yankees’ hesitancy to sign one of the free-agent shortstops might be due to their faith in Anthony Volpe, the team’s first-round choice in 2019 who had a breakthrough season in Class A at age 20, hitting.294/.423/.604 with 27 home runs and 33 stolen bases in 109 games. Although some evaluators dispute his arm strength to continue at shortstop, it was undoubtedly the most spectacular season of any minor leaguer. Even if Volpe is ready for 2023, the Yankees may choose for a one-year stopgap, such as Andrelton Simmons, rather than focusing on luring Freddie Freeman to New York with a nine-figure deal. According to Buster Olney, the Yankees may choose not to spend much this winter in order to extend Aaron Judge until 2023.
There’s also the question of how the Yankees’ players feel about Correa and his role in the cheating controversy involving the Astros (the Yankees lost to the Astros in the 2017 and 2019 American League Championship Series). While it’s simple to dismiss it as a nonfactor, it’s far from zero.
Payroll for this year is expected to be $206 million.
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Although the Red Sox already have an All-Star shortstop in Xander Bogaerts, this seems to be an unusual match.
1. It’s understandable that Boston’s chief baseball officer, Chaim Bloom, wants to strengthen the team’s defense. In 2021, the Red Sox had the poorest hitting average on balls in play in the majors, with a.324 batting average. Although some of them were cheap fly balls off the Green Monster, the Red Sox also had the lowest batting average on grounders in the league (.273). They could add Correa, shift Bogaerts to third base, and Rafael Devers to first base, bolstering their shortstop and third base defenses dramatically.
2. Bogaerts has an opt-out after the 2022 season, which he seems to be planning to use. Would you rather sign the 27-year-old Correa to a long-term contract than the 30-year-old Bogaerts, who will be entering his 30th season in 2023 and already has below-average defensive metrics?
Correa would improve the Red Sox in 2022, and he is also the stronger long-term option at shortstop. Yes, the Red Sox would have to exceed the anticipated luxury-tax threshold, but that hasn’t stopped them in the past.
$189.3 million in expected payroll
Although rumours arose that the agreement isn’t complete (and Verlander isn’t listed on the Astros’ official roster), the payroll amount includes Justin Verlander’s $25 million salary for 2022. The Astros allegedly offered Correa a five-year, $160 million contract. That won’t get it done, but let’s pretend a problem with Verlander’s health has arisen, and the Astros are worried. Perhaps the money will be diverted back to Correa in a longer-term contract.
After missing the first half of the season due to a wrist injury, the Astros have a promising shortstop prospect in Jeremy Pena, who showed unexpected power with 10 home runs in 30 games at Triple-A (hitting.287/.346/.598 in 133 plate appearances). The Astros might take a chance on Pena or go for Trevor Story, a Texas native who is a less costly option to Correa. A rematch with Correa seems improbable, but anything may happen if the Yankees and Red Sox pull out.
$178.3 million in expected payroll
This one is simple: Didi Gregorius is set to earn $15.25 million in 2022, but he’s coming off a bad season in which he had a.270 on-base percentage and ranked last among shortstops in Statcast’s outs above average measure. At 32, it’s unrealistic to expect Gregorius to come back, so the Phillies should see his deal as a sunk investment and look for a new shortstop. The Phillies may open the season with Gregorius and hope that Bryson Stott, the team’s first-round selection in 2019 who played at Triple-A for a few games in 2021, is ready sooner rather than later. They also have additional voids to fill, as Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler are all under contract for at least $23 million through 2024.
Payroll for this year is expected to be $128.1 million.
Marcus Stroman made his case for Correa to sign with his new team only hours after signing to a three-year deal with the Cubs, tweeting to him, “Need you in Chicago my dawg!” While it may seem that the Cubs are still rebuilding, take notice of their two significant offseason signings: Stroman and Wade Miley from the Reds. Given Stroman’s two-year opt-out clause, those are two “win-now” decisions, and a rotation of Stroman, Miley, Kyle Hendricks, and Adbert Alzolay might be sneakily excellent.
Because the top three are all pitch-to-contact hitters, signing the Platinum Glove winner is a no-brainer. Current shortstop Nico Hoerner is hardly a stumbling hurdle, and the salary has plenty of space for Correa and others. “We expect to be incredibly busy active in free agency,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer stated at the close of the regular season. “We have the resources to compete in 2022 and beyond, and we will utilize them,” team chairman Tom Ricketts said in a letter to season-ticket holders in October.
Correa’s signing would be similar to what Theo Epstein and Hoyer did in 2015, when they signed Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million contract after he had a 73-89 season in 2014. The Cubs are in desperate need of a franchise-defining offensive talent. The Cubs are starting to appear like a terrific match.
Payroll for this year is expected to be $99.4 million.
With 2020 Gold Glover J.P. Crawford on the roster, there isn’t an apparent match as there is with the Red Sox. Crawford is the team’s shortstop now and in the future, according to President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto, who told reporters during the GM meetings in November that Crawford is the team’s shortstop now and in the future. “I would be amazed if we haven’t added more to our offense by the time we start the ’22 season,” Dipoto remarked after signing Robbie Ray.
So, after placing 11th in the AL in runs, the Mariners are eager for a big hitter, and second and third base are now filled by Adam Frazier (who may slide into a super-utility position) and Abraham Toro, respectively (a nice bench player). Would the Mariners sign Correa to play third base if they took Dipoto’s word for it? The fact that he is a shortstop is one of the key reasons for his $300 million contract; shifting Correa to third base would be a waste of money, thus the Mariners are more likely to seek Kris Bryant or Story, or possibly one of the outfield/DH hitters (Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, Seiya Suzuki, Michael Conforto). If Julio Rodriguez is ready to play right out of spring training — and don’t rule it out — the corner outfield situation will be even more crowded, unless they’re prepared to stretch Jarred Kelenic or Rodriguez as a center fielder, even if Kyle Lewis’ knees are healthy. But don’t worry about it; it’ll all work out in the end. The Mariners are in need of a batter and have the funds to do it.
Finally, three teams to keep an eye on:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: With Trea Turner at shortstop and Gavin Lux and Chris Taylor at second base, the Dodgers have a powerful middle infield. With Max Scherzer in Queens and Clayton Kershaw unsigned for the time being, they may be interested in signing Freeman. Never underestimate their financial clout, but apart from the Betts deal, the Andrew Friedman front office has avoided super-long contracts.
2. Atlanta Braves: After 2022, Dansby Swanson will be a free agency, so they may sign Correa and trade Swanson. Owner Liberty Media has always been hesitant to spend big in free agency, and if they do it now, Freeman is more likely to be re-signed.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: They lost Semien to free agency, but their payroll ($159.1 million) still has space to expand. Bo Bichette, a below-average shortstop, moves to second base, giving the Blue Jays the finest double-play combination in baseball (depending on your view of Seager and Semien).
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The “carlos correa fangraphs” is a case against signing Carlos Correa. The Astros have been trying to sign the player since last year, but he has not signed yet.
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