The Twins' Carlos Correa fields a ground ball hit by the...

The Twins' Carlos Correa fields a ground ball hit by the Guardians' Oscar Gonzalez during the third inning of a game on Sept. 19, 2022, in Cleveland. Credit: AP/Nick Cammett

It was a drama and a saga — a weeks-long poker game that saw the richest man in baseball step away from the table. And, despite all the reactions and overreactions, there’s absolutely no way to know if the Mets’ decision to let the Twins sign Carlos Correa will bite them in the end.

The only guarantee, really, is that the optics are pretty miserable right now.

Correa Tuesday came to terms with his third team of the offseason, signing a six-year, $200 million deal with the Twins, with conditions in place for four more years and an extra $70 million. His right ankle — the thing that caused him to fail physicals with the Giants and Mets — has cost him $150 million in guaranteed money (the Giants originally offered him 13 years, $350 million before balking last month).

And though the Mets were in play until the end, reports indicate owner Steve Cohen had significant reservations: Correa was offered six years plus six conditional ones, along with stipulations on top of stipulations — including a backloaded contract and yearly physicals, according to the New York Post. The result being that the small-market Twins outbid the Mets' billionaire owner, at least in terms of guaranteed cash.

The whole thing played out on TV and social media, thanks to Correa’s bombastic agent, Scott Boras, and Cohen’s ill-advised decision to talk about the deal before the infielder had undergone his physical.

It was dramatic. It was intriguing. And most of all, it was an absolute mess. In fact, it still is.

Last month, Cohen told the Post that the Mets “needed one more hitter” and that said hitter was Correa. Now, that missing piece has slipped away, and it's going to be impossible to not imagine how much better the Mets could be with an infielder who had a 4.4 fWAR last season and hit .291 with 22 homers. Because of that, whatever Correa does in the coming years will be amplified times 100 — even if his body eventually breaks down.

Either outcome — a Correa who doesn't stay healthy or one that continues to produce — will reflect loudly on Cohen's risk assessment.

In the meantime, fans have every reason to be disappointed. Correa is a top-tier talent, and his ability to make quality contact for power, along with his postseason production, really did make him seem like the thing that would put the Mets over the top. When the Giants backed out, and Cohen swooped in just 48 hours later, the move felt like an exorcism: Sure, everyone knew he was willing to spend, but fans were also excited at his cavalier boldness. Boras did nothing to dissuade the notion, holding an impromptu news conference a day later and saying that it took Cohen about an hour to OK a 12-year, $315 million deal.

But there were signs early that things wouldn’t be that simple. Boras sold the whole thing hard — “’Welcome to Correa-mas — this is your lucky day," the agent recalled telling Cohen. Asked, during that news conference, if there was anything wrong with his player, Boras said there was “no current issue.” And then there was the reaction: Boras said that when he told Correa of the original Mets contract, the infielder was so excited, he tackled him. This, despite having to (1) move to third base, (2) take a shorter deal and, (3) essentially lose out on $35 million in guaranteed money. Generally, people aren’t tackle-your-agent jazzed about losing out on tens of millions of dollars if nothing is wrong.

Even with all of that, there’s going to be a prevailing sense of "what if?"

The Mets' lineup is essentially a retread of what they had last year, and though 101 wins is nothing to scoff at, it didn’t do them a whole lot of good in the playoffs. There isn’t much left on the market currently, and they’ve been loath to trade away prospects, since Cohen is looking to rebuild the farm system that was gutted in recent years. They could roll the dice and hope that Eduardo Escobar builds off the strong September he had last year or pray that Brett Baty and/or Francisco Alvarez can live up to their promise. They can do something at the trade deadline. They can say that they’re waiting on next year’s free-agent class, which will likely include Manny Machado and Shohei Ohtani.

And maybe it’ll all work out. But either way, balky ankle or not, these whirlwind weeks will continue to make Correa seem like the one that got away. The drama is over, but the story is just beginning.

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