Kielar's MLB Offseason Notebook 3.0: Correa Saga Ends
Now over two weeks into 2023, pitchers and catchers reporting is quickly approaching. It has been quite the whirlwind of an offseason for Major League Baseball with plenty of surprises. Before we start to dive into previewing the 2023 season, let's go over the biggest storylines from the past month.
Carlos Correa opted out from his contract with the Minnesota Twins after the season and was coming into the offseason looking to get the bag. In what seemed like a never ending carousel ride, he wound up signing not one, not two, but three contracts all in one offseason. For a movie star, signing onto three movies over the course of just a few months would be, in the words of Larry David, "Pretty, pretty good."
But for a baseball player, that isn't exactly the case. For Correa, the San Francisco Giants had given him a massive deal, in length and money. The Giants, who were pivoting from missing out on Aaron - or should I say Arson - Judge, went after Correa. The terms of the deal, 13 years, $350 million was agreed upon between the two sides, pending physical. Oh, that dreaded pending physical. Usually, when a report ends with those two words it means the contract is all but certain to go through. But in this case, it was the bane of existence for the entire San Francisco fanbase. Did someone say bane?
Upon reviewing the physical, the Giants' brass had concerns and it was almost as if they were looking for an excuse to back out of the deal. Did they regret giving him that many years? Perhaps that was part of it, as the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year revealed that the team's conversations about his ankle were centered around the future. Which really doesn't make sense, when it's all about "maybes" and "what-ifs". His ankle could maybe be an issue in the future, way down the line but right now it's in good shape. Sports are all about "maybes" and "what-ifs" and that's why you play. Nothing is ever guaranteed but you always should give yourself the best chance to win.
The Giants were in a good position to make a run with Correa in the middle of their lineup. Obviously, they weren't going to have a chance to compete with the juggernaut that is the Los Angeles Dodgers, nor was/is anyone else in the NL West. But, you make the big dance as a wild card and anything can happen. Correa certainly would have increased their chances at potentially going on a deep run. Instead, they focused on the future - possibly 8-10 years down the line - instead of the present.
Now instead of possibly having to deal with a bad few years at the end of the contract, they have to deal with a new "what-if" that they created. Also, if they had an issue with something that could come up in several years, why didn't they try to shorten the deal? Nonetheless, I digress.
The ride was very far from over after the Giants got off, or really got in their own way and pushed themselves off. But maybe I'm wrong, since they weren't the only team to have an issue arise. Enter the New York Mets, who up to that point had been having an eventful offseason. They lost Jacob deGrom to free agency, then in turn re-signed Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Diaz, and Adam Ottavino, while also signing Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana, and Kodai Senga. Steve Cohen went full beast mode on the offseason and wanted to go even further by jumping on the Correa train, a train that was starting to veer off the tracks.
So, once again, there was an agreement. This one for 12 years, $315 million, and again of course pending physical. The odd part of the whole deal is that the Mets used the same ankle specialist as the Giants, who failed him. So obviously he was going to fail him again, but Correa said he saw other specialists who said the ankle would be fine, including the one who did surgery on it when he injured it as a 19-year old prospect.
"They were looking at the functionality of the ankle," Correa told Ken Rosenthal. "The way the ankle has been the past eight years."
The injury occurred in 2014; it was a fractured right fibula and he had minor ligament damage, which he got surgery on in June of that year. Did the Mets and Giants both regret giving a deal that long that "could" have an issue come up with his ankle in the future? Or is there something else at play here? I don't buy into many conspiracy theories, but there is something off with this whole situation. Interestingly, both these teams were also not truly in need of a shortstop and would have moved Correa to third base. Perhaps they both got cold feet and as stated earlier, needed any excuse not to go through with it.
Nonetheless, after all of that, the train did a full loop around and wound back up where it started, in Minnesota. That's where the Twins agreed to a six-year, $200 million deal, a big falloff from what the two previous teams had offered. It was a quick turnaround and the Twins seemed to pass Correa on the physical very quickly; they clearly didn't use the same ankle specialist.
At the re-introductory press conference, Correa said he passed all three physicals he had in 2022, a season in which he hit .291/.366/.467 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs in 136 games. Minnesota clearly didn't have the same concerns of the other teams, or perhaps didn't really care. But no other teams were ever really in on Correa and that could definitely mean something. Perhaps the physical went something like this:
The Other Moves
Besides the Correa saga that dominated the last month of the offseason, other moves have been made. The Giants wound up getting their bat as they signed Michael Conforto to a two-year deal after he went un-signed last year and is recovering from a shoulder injury. While San Francisco didn't land the big-name player they had hoped, they spread the wealth around to a handful of players at positions of need. Along with Conforto, they landed outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitchers Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling, Taylor Rogers, and Luke Jackson, as well as re-signing Joc Pederson. Justin Turner signed with the Boston Red Sox and they actually gave an extension to a fan-favorite player, not letting Rafael Devers leave the building.
The Phillies bolstered their bullpen by trading for a solid reliever in Gregory Soto, also landing infielder Kody Clemens in the deal which sent outfielder Matt Vierling, shortstop Nick Maton, and catcher/DH Donny Sands to the Detroit Tigers. Other moves that have happened are really too minor to even mention, unless I missed any.
But now, just a month remains until pitchers and catchers report as the first teams begin to report to Arizona and Florida on February 15. It is almost time to switch gears as the 2023 Hall of Fame class will also be revealed soon. Be sure to check out our latest Hall of Fame cases and follow along as the season approaches.