With the 2022 season behind us and the Hot Stove ready to burn, we take a closer look at some of the most prominent players eligible for free agency.
Name: Carlos Correa
Position: Short stop
Team: Minnesota twins
Age (as of opening day 2023): 28
Statistics for 2022: .291/.366/.467, 22 HR, 64 RBIs, 70 R
Like fellow free agent shortstop Dansby Swanson, Correa was the first overall pick in the MLB Draft, selected by the Astros in 2012.
The 2015 American League Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-Star, Correa first entered the free agent market last winter, but was unable to secure the long-term deal he sought. Correa signed a three-year, $105.3 million deal with the Twins, then pulled out of the last two years of the contract to give free agency another chance.
The infielder had a solid season with the Twins, posting an .834 OPS in 136 games. Minnesota failed to reach the postseason in 2022, but Correa is no stranger to October baseball, hitting 18 home runs with an .849 OPS in 79 career playoff games with the Astros.
Will Correa find the long-term deal that eluded him a year ago? That’s one of the biggest questions of the off-season.
The Twins loved everything Correa brought to the team in 2022, from his on-field performance to his leadership skills. Minnesota will make a big move to keep Correa, potentially getting him a bid that would represent the largest contract in club history, surpassing Joe Mauer’s $184 million eight-year deal.
Chicago is attached to virtually all free-agent shortstops, but Correa is believed to be the Cubs’ primary target. The two sides were linked last season and were finally able to agree on a deal this offseason as the Cubs are expected to be one of the more active teams in free agency.
San Francisco appears to be targeting Aaron Judge, but if the slugger returns to the Yankees, the Giants could pivot to the shortstop market. Brandon Crawford has only one year left on his contract and could move to second base, freeing up a shortstop for Correa. The Giants have plenty of money to spend this winter, so that won’t be an issue if they want to pursue the shortstop.
If the Yankees can’t re-sign Judge, they’ll have to figure out a way to replace some of that offense. Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza are expected to get a shot at the shortstop job next spring, but could the loss of Judge cause New York to rethink that idea in favor of a proven star? Also note: Yankees fans may not be crazy about the idea of adding Correa, one of the faces of the 2017 Astros sign-stealing scandal.
It seems more likely that the Red Sox would pay to bring back Xander Bogaerts than pursue any of the other free-agent shortstops, but if Bogaerts leaves, Boston could be in the mix for Correa. Manager Alex Cora knows him well, and there are questions about Trevor Story’s ability to play shortstop given his arm problems over the past few years.
Turner is expected to leave as a free agent, opening the shortstop spot in Los Angeles. Correa would fit well into the lineup, but like the Yankees, the Dodgers will have to reckon with the fan base, which continues to have issues with prominent members of the 2017 Astros.
“An athletic, well-rounded shortstop just entering his prime, Correa is a medium threat whose offensive attributes include the ability to hit for average, power and get on base. It has a low maintenance swing with good bat speed and power. The power hasn’t really played in the production at the level I think is possible given the amount of hard contact he makes, but he’s a potential 30-home-run hitter who’s selective, doesn’t strike out, has a walk and can average hitting too.
“Defensively, he’s a big guy who might have to change positions eventually, but he’s got good hands and is a reliable defender at shortstop. The question of health and his back in particular will probably be the only things that will make a huge contract for a franchise-type player.”
There’s no denying Correa’s talent, but he’s had problems staying on the pitch over the years. The shortstop has crossed the 140-game mark only twice in his career and reached the 130-game mark in another. He played 58 of 60 games in the shortened 2020 season, but Correa had a three-year spell from 2017-19 where he played in 109, 110 and 75 games.
Correa has played 101 more career games than Corey Seager, and his .279/.357/.479 slash still compares nicely to Seager’s .287/.357/.494. The counting stats are also similar enough — 155 HR/553 RBIs for Correa, 137 HR/447 RBIs for Seager — for Correa to seek a deal in the range of Seager’s $325 million 10-year pact with Texas.