The Carlos Correa saga may be nearing an end – but not in a way that will please Mets fans.
Multiple reports Tuesday said the Minnesota Twins and Correa are finalizing a six-year, $200-million contract to bring the free agent back to the Twin Cities. The deal has a vesting option for four more years that could bring the total to $270 million, according to ESPN.com.
The contract is “pending a physical,” and never have those three words loomed as large in a baseball free agent negotiation as they have for Correa. Two teams -- the Giants and the Mets -- have already walked away from agreements to sign Correa after finding something troublesome in his medical history.
The Mets had been in a holding pattern with Correa ever since they spotted something in the physical he took just before Christmas. Reports indicate the issue is a 2014 ankle injury and surgery, which has never put Correa on the injured list in the majors, but could be a concern during a long-term contract.
The Mets’ concerns scuttled a 12-year, $315-million deal the club had agreed to with Correa, one that club owner Steve Cohen said on Dec. 21 “puts us over the top.”
“This really makes a big difference,” Cohen told the New York Post on Dec. 21 in a rare example of an owner talking about a signing before it became official. “I felt like our pitching was in good shape. We needed one more hitter.”
But Cohen seemed to indicate on Friday on Twitter that the Mets were willing to walk away. Cohen, who has been mostly silent on social media, liked two Tweets. One said, “We’re already a better team than we were at this time last year” and praised Cohen.
The other Tweet Cohen liked had a fan writing, “I want Carlos, but he needs the Mets more than they need him.”
On Saturday, at a Citi Field event, Cohen answered a question about Correa to Tyler Ward, who runs a Mets’ YouTube channel.
“While I can’t speak on the player,” Cohen said, “I do believe we’ll have a resolution soon one way or the other."
Earlier this offseason, the San Francisco Giants were hours away from introducing Correa when they canceled a 13-year, $350-million agreement. That’s when Cohen swooped in and reached an agreement for Correa to come to Flushing, where he would have moved to third base to play alongside his buddy Francisco Lindor.
But despite weeks of back-and-forth talks, the Mets and Correa’s agent Scott Boras apparently could not reach a modified agreement that would protect the club in case Correa’s old injury flares up.
The Mets’ wild offseason has already included signing pitchers Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga and David Robertson, plus catcher Omar Narvaez, and re-signing Edwin Diaz, Brandon Nimmo and Adam Ottavino.
Adding Correa would have put the Mets’ payroll over $380 million, which would have been by far the most in baseball history, and would have incurred a luxury tax bill of about $100 million. Without Correa, the Mets will still have the top MLB payroll ever at about $350 million and will still pay a hefty luxury tax.
If Correa finalizes his deal with the Twins, the Mets will still have incumbent Eduardo Escobar plus prospects Brett Baty and Mark Vientos for third base.
Correa is a two-time All-Star, was the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and won a World Series (that some consider tainted because of a sign-stealing scandal) with the Houston Astros in 2017.
Correa played for the Twins in 2022 after signing a three-year, $105.3-million contract and compiled a slash line of .291/.366/.467 with 22 home runs and 62 RBIs. He was worth 4.4 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs.
Correa opted out after one season to test the free agent waters again and took quite a strange route, it seems, to get back to Minnesota.
Pending a physical, of course.
Carlos Correa's agreement with the Twins guarantees him $200 million over the next six seasons:
$8 million signing bonus, half payable next month and half in February 2024
2023: $32 million
2024: $32 million
2025: $36 million
2026: $31.5 million
2027: $30.5 million
2028: $30 million
2029: $25 million option*
2030: $20 million option*
2031: $15 million option*
2032: $10 million option*
*Salaries become guaranteed if Correa has 575 plate appearances in 2028, 550 in 2029, 525 in 2030 and 502 in 2031.
Source: The Associated Press