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Revisiting the Strangest Free Agency Storyline from 2023

Carlos Correa‘s free agency was the storyline of the 2023 offseason. After re-signing with the Minnesota Twins, how does each team feel now?

Revisiting Carlos Correa’s Free Agency

A Three-Team Circus

Over the course of a month, Correa was ready to commit to contracts with three different teams last offseason. In December, he agreed to terms with the San Francisco Giants on a massive 13-year, $350 million dollar contract, which was abruptly canceled after medical concerns arose. Shortly after, the New York Mets agreed in principle to a similar deal (12 years, $315 million). That deal also fell through. Both teams were concerned with Correa’s right ankle, which was surgically repaired in 2014.

Ultimately, Minnesota was able to re-sign Correa at a somewhat discounted rate. Correa returned to the Twins at six years, $200 million, with four option years that could add an additional $70 million guaranteed. From mid-December to mid-January, all of MLB was captivated by the saga, which ultimately put Correa back where he started in Minnesota.

Results Slow in Coming

Minnesota, in all likelihood, will win their division by a significant margin. At 77-70 on the year, the Twins are eight games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Guardians in the American League Central. However, their position in the standings is misleading. Assuming all paces hold, the Twins will enter the postseason with the worst record of any American League team still standing. The AL Central is a weak division, which has allowed Minnesota to stay afloat. Part of their underperformance is attributed to Correa himself. This season, the shortstop has put up just a 93 OPS+ (100 is the league average). He’s hit .229 with 18 home runs, both of which rank as career lows in a full season (min. 120 games played). Correa struggled massively throughout most of the season. July is the only full month in 2023 that he hit above .250.

However, September has been a different story. Though he is struggling to play through plantar fasciitis, Correa is hitting .302 this month while slugging .488. His brief turnaround has inspired hopes of Minnesota’s success in October, as the team tries to win its first postseason game since 2004. Despite the subpar performance this season, Correa is heating up at the right time, and his postseason pedigree speaks for itself. Correa is a career .272 hitter in October, with 18 home runs on his way to one championship and multiple pennants with the Houston Astros. If his turnaround continues, he’ll be a force in the center of Minnesota’s lineup next month.

The Aftermath

Correa’s free agency was a whirlwind that left two major franchises in the dust. However, can either team really hold much regret? San Francisco is a tough case, given their unique season. The Giants are embroiled in a four-way battle for the National League Wild Card, though they hold most tiebreakers. Despite this, Giants shortstops have been awful this year. Veteran Brandon Crawford has put up a -1.3 WAR, almost an exact inverse of Correa’s 1.3 number. Overall, Giants shortstops have been the second worst in baseball by value, putting up -2.9 WAR. Only the Chicago White Sox have been worse at the position. Surely Correa would have improved that number. However, the Giants had injury concerns over the long term, and Correa’s 2023 performance is not the determining factor. In the short term, it’s clear that the Giants would be better with Correa in their lineup.

On the Mets’ side, Correa’s failed deal was a blessing in disguise. Despite carrying the most expensive roster in MLB history, the Mets fell out of the postseason race by July, and are 68-78 on the year. They traded away the two aces from their rotation, and are looking to retool for 2025. If Correa’s massive deal was still on the books, the franchise’s outlook would be much more bleak. Even though Correa would be an improvement on rookie Brett Baty at third, Baty is lined up to be the Mets’ third baseman for the considerable future. It appears the Mets dodged a major headache with the deal falling through.

A Better Than Expected Outcome?

Overall, just nine months later the Correa deal looks to have worked out for all involved. The Twins can be encouraged by Correa’s September numbers, and the Mets look to have dodged a bullet. If Correa stays healthy through the whole contract, and his career stretches for the next twelve years, the Giants might live to regret their risk avoidance. However, with Correa having lower-body issues recently, the Giants more likely than not are holding their heads high, despite the lack of production from shortstop. Correa’s free agency will be a saga remembered for years down the line, but his presence in Minnesota likely worked out best for all parties.


Photo Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports


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