Despite the free agent frenzy that occurred before Major League Baseball went into a lockout, there are plenty of difference-makers still on the market. Whenever MLB comes out of the lockout, there will be teams lining up for a few premier free agents. One of these premier guys is Carlos Correa. The 27-year old shortstop is one of the youngest, and most impactful free agents on the market. There are a number of teams who could act as landing spots for Correa.
Correa figures to make a lot of money, especially with him coming off arguably his best season yet. He put up an .850 OPS with a career best 26 home runs and 104 runs scored. He had an elite 7.2 WAR according to Baseball Reference and won his first Gold Glove and Platinum Glove. Correa did all this en route to a fifth place finish in the AL MVP race. Injuries have hindered Correa’s career, but when healthy, he is one of the best shortstops in the game. A return to the Houston Astros is still a possibility for the veteran. However, there are some potential landing spots for Correa outside of Texas.
New York Yankees
One of the biggest storylines surrounding the New York Yankees over the past year and change is their shortstop situation. The team has used Gleyber Torres for the majority of the past two seasons, but the once top prospect has struggled both offensively and defensively since. This led the team to shift him back to second base and Gio Urshela (the usual third-baseman) to shortstop at the end of the 2021 season. Correa’s 2.9 defensive WAR led the American League in 2021 and he has a quality .837 OPS over his seven-year career. He has also proven that no stage is too big for him, so the bright lights of New York aren’t likely to faze him at all. Coming from the Astros, Correa would have his share of critics within New York. However, from an on-field perspective, this is a great fit.
The Philadelphia Phillies‘ current shortstop, Didi Gregorius, has always been a streaky player. He will typically alternate massive hot streaks and massive cold streaks more than the average player. However, in 2021, it was one big cold streak. Gregorius was limited to 103 games due to injury and he posted a .639 OPS. He wasn’t any better in the field either. His 18 errors were the third most in the NL despite barely playing more than 100 games. As far as advanced metrics go, his defensive runs saved was -10, well below average. Gregorius is still a valuable clubhouse guy, but on the field, he has regressed mightily. He will be 32 by Opening Day in 2022, so the Phillies may want to pivot to a younger albeit much more expensive option in Correa.
St. Louis Cardinals
There are a couple options that the St. Louis Cardinals have for 2022 at shortstop, but there are questions surrounding both of them. Paul DeJong was the runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2017, but he has not found the same success since, and he is coming off his worst season as a pro. The 28-year old hit .197 in 113 games in 2021 and ended up losing his job to rookie Edmundo Sosa. Sosa was more consistent with a .271 batting average, but with less pop. He posted a .389 slugging percentage with just 18 extra-base hits in 113 games played. Correa can bring more of an all-around offensive game than the Cardinals’ current options.
The Cardinals were already the best defensive team in the NL, with five Gold Glovers in 2021 and the team Gold Glove award. Adding arguably the best defender in the AL would be an embarrassment of riches. One can make the argument that adding Correa would make this Cardinals infield the best defensive infield in MLB history.
There are already some teams who have solved their need for a shortstop in this offseason. However, there are still a few potential landing spots for Correa when the lockout ends. Whoever ends up inking the 27-year old to a deal will get a leader and one of the clutchest players on the face of the planet.
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