The Carlos Correa Saga Ends in San Francisco

Last night, one of the last marquee names left on the MLB free agency board found a new home. Star shortstop Carlos Correa is now a San Francisco Giant, as Correa has reportedly inked a massive 13-year deal. The contract will pay Correa over $300 million, and keep the 28-year old in the Bay Area for the next decade. It’s a massive move, but it’s one that isn’t far off from what Correa’s peers have made over the past year.

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A Look at Correa

Drafted with the top pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Carlos Correa played a pivotal role in the Astros’ successes of the mid-to-late 2010s. Correa hit 22 home runs in 99 games in his rookie season in 2015. That performance helped Houston return to the postseason, and won Correa the AL Rookie of the Year.

That was just the beginning for Correa. Correa has produced six 20+ home run seasons in his career, five of which came as a member of the Astros. Correa’s accomplishments with Houston include the aforementioned AL Rookie of the Year, two All-Star appearances, and a Gold Glove. On top of all that, the former top pick played a key role on the 2017 team that won Houston its first World Series title. Correa smacked 24 home runs that season, and produced a .315/.391/.550 slash line.

After yet another strong season — one that saw Correa finish in the top five in AL MVP voting — in 2021, Correa headed to market for the first time in his career. Houston opted to not re-sign Correa, and instead hand the position over to former University of Maine start Jeremy Peña. Correa, however, did not ink a long-term contract that offseason. Instead, the 28-year old signed a rich, short-term deal with the Twins. Correa’s contact included an opt-out provision after 2022, one that he chose to exercise after another 20 home run campaign.

Since the start of 2020, just three shortstops have produced a higher OPS (.820) than Correa: Trea Turner, Corey Seager, and Xander Bogaerts. All three received contracts worth at least $250 million, and Correa has now joined that group. The shortstop is one of the game’s elite hitters, thanks his abilities to get on base and punish hitters. Now, he heads to a team that was focused on making a big splash this winter.

What it Means

A year after Correa opted to sign a short-term with the Twins, the All-Star now has a permanent home in the Bay Area. For Correa, the former AL Rookie of the Year gets a desired big-money deal and latches on to a team intent on competing with the Dodgers and Padres in the NL West. Granted, San Francisco’s path to a playoff spot will be tougher than Los Angeles or San Diego. Nonetheless, this is a major addition that gives San Francisco a cornerstone bat for both the present and the immediate future.

It will be interesting to see what San Francisco does with Brandon Crawford for 2023. The Gold Glove shortstop had a career season in 2021, prompting the Giants to re-sign him for two more seasons. 2022, though, was a much different story for the soon-to-be 36-year old infielder. Crawford produced a slash line of just .231/.308/.344 last season. Crawford’s .652 OPS was his lowest since his rookie season in 2011.

It’s quite clear that Carlos Correa is the shortstop of the Giants’ present and future. Will San Francisco opt to move the long-time Giant infielder, or carry him for one last season in a limited role? Brandon Crawford’s defensive abilities, coupled with his production in 2021, could be enough to take on the Giant for one season. But with Crawford due to receive $16 million in 2023, that total might be tough to stomach for some potential suitors.

It’s been a busy few weeks for the Giants. San Francisco has upgraded its lineup with Correa and power hitting outfielder Mitch Haniger. And as far as pitching is concerned, the Giants added two new arms in left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea and righty Ross Stripling. San Francisco took a step back in 2022, but with new pieces in place for next season, the Giants’ hopes lie with its new face of the franchise and a re-aligned supporting cast.

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