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Carlos Correa signs a US$ 200 million contract with twins

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On December 21, the Mets were declared by many to be the winners of the off-season after striking terms with Carlos Correa, one of baseball’s best players, on a 12-year, $315 million contract. The Mets, who won 101 games in 2022, were adding a superstar in what they hoped would be the final piece in team owner Steven A. Cohen’s championship puzzle.

The Mets deal, which followed Correa’s 13-year, $350 million deal with the San Francisco Giants the week before, was “pending a physical exam,” contract language that is often glossed over as the “terms and conditions.” on a website.

Twenty days later, however, Correa, 28, a shortstop, also pulled out of the deal. On Tuesday, he reached an agreement with the Minnesota Twins, for whom he played last season, on a six-year, $200 million contract. A person familiar with the details of the talks confirmed Correa’s agreement with the twins on condition of anonymity.

The deal with the twins is also pending a physical exam. So until it’s completed, everyone will have to stay tuned.

Correa’s deal with the Giants would have been the second-biggest this offseason, according to Spotrac. What he agreed with the Mets would have been the third major. But both were detained after teams carried out physical examinations. Rather than redo those deals, Correa accepted a contract with Minnesota that guarantees him far less money overall but pays him considerably more annually.

With the deal, Correa would be second only to the Mets’ Francisco Lindor among shortstops in average salary, but his contract is less in total value than those signed this offseason by Trea Turner (11 years, $300 million with Philadelphia ) and Xander Bogaerts (11 years, $280 million with San Diego).

In his new deal with the Twins, Correa would be paid an average of $33,333,333 per season over six years and could increase his earnings by up to $245 million over seven years when he hits certain benchmarks, according to the person familiar with the negotiations. There are acquisition options built into the deal to protect the team and potentially benefit the player, including those tied to where he places in the regular season and postseason awards.

First, the twins need to complete the deal, which, given Correa’s off-season thus far, isn’t guaranteed.

Not particularly. In the past, Boras clients such as Ivan Rodriguez, JD Drew and Magglio Ordóñez have agreed to contracts that contain language to protect teams after medical issues arise, while still paying players competitive wages.

In an unusual move, Cohen tackled the signing before it was completed – a decision he no doubt regrets.

“We needed one more thing, and this is it,” Cohen told The New York Post’s Jon Heyman the day the deal closed. “That was important. It puts us at the top.”

Heyman later reported that the Mets sold $1 million worth of tickets the day Correa’s news broke.

Since then, the Mets have not discussed the deal. And after all the excitement of December 21st, the team is back where it started in terms of lineup.

The Giants scheduled a press conference for December 20 to introduce Correa to reporters. But it was canceled that day, leading to speculation that something about his physical had them worried.

Overnight, news of the Mets broke, and Scott Boras, Correa’s agent, dismissed any suggestion that there were problems with Correa’s health, telling The New York Times that “medical opinions are exactly what they are. – opinions”.

The Giants made an unusual move by issuing a statement about a deal that fell through.

“While we are prohibited from disclosing confidential medical information, as Scott Boras has publicly stated, there was a difference of opinion regarding the results of Carlos’ physical examination,” said the statement, attributed to Farhan Zaidi, president of the baseball team. “We wish Carlos the best.”

Later, Zaidi addressed the matter on a conference call with reporters in the field, questioning the idea that the team had taken Correa and Boras by surprise with their concerns.

Never shy, Boras was happy to chat with reporters once he found a spot for Correa after the Giants woes.

“He was preparing for a new place in his life and then the delays hit and you have to go through another transition,” Boras told The Times of Correa’s decision to leave the Giants. “But he is very happy to join the Mets.”

Boras described his phone call with Cohen in detail and dismissed any concerns that the Mets would have issues with Correa’s medical information. Thereafter, he made no public comment on the Mets deal.

Absolutely nothing.

The short answer is no. The long answer is long.

Almost all speculation and reporting by anonymous sources has focused on the state of Correa’s right leg. In 2014, two years after Houston selected him as the No. 1 draft pick, Correa was thriving for Class A Lancaster when an awkward slip into third base resulted in his peak getting stuck in the dirt. Correa, then 19, was taken off the pitch.

What was initially diagnosed as an ankle injury turned out to be a fractured fibula, with what was described as a minor ligament injury. He had season-ending surgery five days after the injury, and Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager at the time, said the team expected Correa to “get right back to where he was when he was injured.”

That certainly seems to be what happened. In 2015, Correa started the season at Class AA Corpus Christi and was promoted to Class AAA Fresno after 29 games. He also thrived there and was called up to the Astros after just 24 games at the minors’ top level. In Houston, he hit . 279 with 22 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 99 games and narrowly surpassed his friend Lindor, who was playing for Cleveland at the time, as American League Rookie of the Year.

While Correa missed significant time with injuries in 2017, 2018 and 2019, none of those absences were right leg related. And he’s been pretty durable ever since, playing in 342 of his team’s 384 regular season games since the start of the 2020 season.

Mostly. The old injury, and the way it was repaired, briefly resurfaced last season when Correa was playing for the Twins. On September 20, he tried to steal second place and limped off after being eliminated. After the game, he didn’t worry that he was seriously injured.

“He just hit my plate,” Correa told reporters. “I had surgery and he got it right. I just kind of felt numb. Vibrating. So I was just waiting for him to calm down. It was a little scary, but when I moved in, I knew it was good.”

Sure enough, he was back in the lineup the next day and didn’t miss a moment because of the slip.

Extraordinarily long contracts, like the ones Correa signed with the Giants and Mets, carry a great deal of risk. Entering one with a known issue that could limit a player’s mobility as they age would increase that risk. This is particularly true for a player like Correa, who derives much of his value from his defense and athleticism.

Contract language and insurance adjustments may be included to account for the heightened risk, but Boras had Correa walk away from the Giants when they wanted to change terms and then walked away from the Mets as well.

Instead, Correa will return to Minnesota on a shorter contract that includes more language to explain potential health issues. That is, he will do so if the deal is completed.

Not!

For all the money Cohen has spent this off-season — the Mets’ payroll and luxury taxes were expected to top $500 million in 2023 — the team’s offense has not been updated, save for Correa. That said, third baseman Eduardo Escobar, who hit 20 home runs in his first year with the Mets, is still under contract, as is second baseman Jeff McNeil, the NL hitting champion last season. And Lindor, despite not being as strong a defender as Correa, was expected to remain a shortstop at all times.

So not signing Correa is a blow to the Mets, but it doesn’t really leave them with a gap in their roster.

David Waldstein and Tyler Kepner contributed reports.

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