This is why deals in baseball are never official until they’re official.
Carlos Correa jumped to the Mets on Wednesday morning after his agreement with the Giants fell through over disagreement about the results of his physical exam. The exam is almost always a formality before signings and trades are completed, but in this case someone saw something they didn’t like, and that ultimately sunk the deal.
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Once he was back on the market, Correa — or, more precisely his agent, Scott Boras — pitched the Mets, who were competing with the Giants for Correa previously. Owner Steve Cohen was more than willing to give Correa a nine-figure contract after getting another shot.
The shocking late-night switch means an even more bloated payroll for Cohen’s club, a left side of the infield of Correa and Francisco Lindor, and no doubt anger and bitterness in the Bay Area.
So, what is Correa getting from the Mets in place of his reported deal with the Giants? Here are the details.
Carlos Correa contract details
Correa’s contract with the Mets is for 12 years and $315 million, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. That comes out to a $26.25 average annual value (AAV). Correa and Boras had reached verbal agreement on a reported 13-year, $350 million contract with the Giants on Dec. 13.
The physical exam was the last step in the process. The team had scheduled a news conference for Tuesday, although it never said explicilty that it was introducing Correa. San Francisco abruptly postponed the session Tuesday morning; soon after, there were reports, including by Ronald Blum of The Associated Press, that a medical issue had arisen and the agreement was on pause.
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Sources told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that there was disagreement among doctors over Correa’s physical. (Boras termed it a “difference of opinion,” per Heyman.) The issues have not been disclosed publicly, although Slusser reported earlier that they did not involve Correa’s back, which has given him trouble in the past.
There’s no guarantee yet that Correa will be a Met, either. New York also needs to check his medicals before a signing can take place. But now that Cohen has hit the longest of long shots, and based on what he told Heyman from Hawaii, where he negotiated the deal with Boras, it seems reasonable to think that the Mets will be more lenient in reading the results.
“We need one more thing, and this is it,” Cohen told Heyman. “This was important … This puts us over the top. This is a good team. I hope it’s a good team!”
Correa reportedly will shift to third base and play alongside Lindor, who had lobbied Cohen to sign the former Astros and Twins star. Lindor signed a 10-year, $341 million extension that began in 2022.
How big is the Mets’ payroll in 2023?
It’s freaking huge. Cot’s Baseball Contracts had calculated the club’s 40-man roster obligation at $358 million prior to the agreement with Correa, so this deal will push the figure above $380 million for now. Cohen is looking at a luxury tax penalty around $100 million on top of the payroll, Heyman estimated.
“What the heck’s the difference? If you’re going to make the move, make the move,” Cohen told Heyman.
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Correa’s contract is the topper to an amazing offseason spending spree. Deals previously handed out by Cohen:
Brandon Nimmo: eight years, $162 million
Edwin Diaz: five years, $102 million
Justin Verlander: two years, $86.7 million
Kodai Senga: five years, $75 million
Jose Quintana: two years, $26 million
Omar Narvaez: two years, $15 million
Adam Ottavino: two years, $14.5 million
David Robertson: one year, $10 million
Brooks Raley: two years, $10 million
With Correa on board, incumbent third baseman Eduardo Escobar would appear to be trade bait. He counts $10 million for 2023 in the second year of a two-year, $20 million contract that includes a club option for 2024. He could slide into a utility role, but New York has a much cheaper option in Luis Guillorme, a favorite of manager Buck Showalter.
There were rumors Tuesday that the team was talking trade with the White Sox over All-Star reliever Liam Hendriks ($16 million salary). Catcher James McCann, who has disappointed after signing a four-year, $40 million contract prior to the 2021 season, was rumored to be one of the players who would head to Chicago, or, in his case, back to Chicago. He was with the White Sox before signing with the Mets.
Would Escobar, also a former White Sox player, become part of the deal as well? Chicago could stand an upgrade at second base over supersub Leury Garcia and rookie Lenyn Sosa.