Why Carlos Correa’s free agency has been a mess of incomplete deals, second-guessing owners and old injuries
Although it has been more than two weeks since infielder Carlos Correa reached an agreement with the New York Mets on a 12-year, $315 million deal, the two sides have yet to finalize the deal. The holdout allegedly stems from concerns the Mets have about Correa’s lower right leg.
The Mets and Correa’s agent Scott Boras continued to negotiate revised terms Thursday, but the news was accompanied by a New York Post report that Boras had “renewed contact with at least one or two interested teams.” At this stage, it’s unclear what’s more likely: Correa and the Mets finding a deal, or Boras finding more favorable terms from another club.
If, as a well-adjusted human being, you’ve spent the last three weeks dealing with family matters as part of the holiday season, then you may be out of touch with everything that’s been going on with Correa. We here at CBS Sports aren’t very regimented, so we thought we’d provide a handy explainer that answers six questions you might have about this situation.
Let’s go to her.
1. Hasn’t Correa already signed with the Giants?
We can start here as well. Yes, Correa technically reached an agreement with the San Francisco Giants in the form of a 13-year contract worth $350 million. The Giants scheduled a press conference to introduce Correa, and he and his family even went house hunting in the San Francisco area. Sadly, the press conference was canceled just hours before it was supposed to happen. Before a full day had passed, Correa had agreed to terms with the Mets on this contract.
2. What happened to the Giants deal?
This may sound familiar. The Giants became concerned about the long-term status of Correa’s lower right leg during a physical. From here, well, let’s move on to Bora’s public explanation of what happened from there.
“We reached an agreement. We had a letter of agreement. We gave them a timeline to execute it,” Boras told The Athletic. “They advised us they still had questions. They still wanted to talk to other people, other doctors, go through it.
“I said, ‘Look, I’ve given you a reasonable amount of time. We have to move forward on this. Give me a time frame. If you’re not going to execute, I have to go talk to the other teams.”
Boras did talk to other teams, resulting in the current situation.
3. Why are teams worried about Correa’s leg?
Correa suffered a nasty injury to his right foot when he was a minor leaguer in the Houston Astros system. As a result, he had to have surgery, and part of that process involved installing a plate near his ankle. Correa hasn’t requested an injury list for his leg at the time, but physic is often about predictive value rather than receptive value — that is, doctors look ahead, not back.
It stands to reason that two things could be true: Doctors could be justified in highlighting Correa’s leg as an area of concern, yet Correa could stay relatively healthy regardless of the plate. Of course, this is a case where the public and the media don’t have enough information to weigh in one way or the other.
4. What might a revised Correa deal include?
In theory, the Mets and Correa could insert compensatory language that would protect the club in the event that Correa’s foot becomes an issue. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal explained how it would work. (Hit the gloves at NBC Sports Bay Area for the podcast transcript.)
“The way to do it in a situation like this is to put something in the contract called an ‘exclusion clause’ that basically says if a player spends X number of days on the injured list with this specific injury, that specific injury. part of his leg, then you can cancel the next few years or you can lower the guarantee, there’s all kinds of ways to do that,” Rosenthal said. “Now obviously if you’re Correa and Boras, you don’t want that kind of language because it lowers the value of the contract and creates this uncertainty. It’s clearly not the same.”
It is unclear whether the two sides have discussed an opt-out clause, or whether Boras and Correa are even open to the possibility of installing such a clause in the deal.
They could also add more generic team options to the deal that would allow the Mets to be released if Correa’s health becomes an issue down the road.
5. Are there any other considerations at play for the Mets?
Indeed, the Mets’ situation with Correa is more complicated than the Giants’. That’s because owner Steve Cohen could have opened his team up to a complaint from the Major League Baseball Players Association if the Mets walk away from their deal by making public comments about Correa.
“We needed one more thing, and this is it,” Cohen told the New York Post after the initial deal with Correa was announced. “That was important … That puts us on top. That’s a good team. I hope it’s a good team!”
There’s a reason managers never comment on players or deals until they’re official. You can understand why Cohen was excited, but his over-the-top nature could cost him here if he can’t make a deal with Boras.
6. Is Correa worth the hype?
Yes. He’s a 28-year-old, two-time All-Star who has posted a 128 OPS+ over the past three seasons while playing solid shortstop defense. CBS Sports ranked him as the No. 3 free agent entering the winter, behind only Aaron Judge and Jacob deGrom. Correa is an elite player, in many words. It would be unfortunate if the events of this winter end up obscuring that fact.