Carlos Correa, in a stunning turn of events, has agreed on a 12-year, $315 million contract with the New York Mets, eschewing a previous agreement with the San Francisco Giants, a source confirmed to ESPN early Wednesday morning.
Correa originally had agreed to terms last week with San Francisco and was set to sign a historic 13-year, $350 million contract, tying Bryce Harper for the longest free agent deal in baseball history and setting up the star shortstop to become a new central figure in the Giants’ decorated history.
But the deal fell apart Tuesday, and the Mets swooped in, led by uber-aggressive owner Steve Cohen, who told the New York Post that he negotiated the new contract with Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, in Hawaii.
“We need one more thing, and this is it,” Cohen told the Post. “This was important. … This puts us over the top. This is a good team. I hope it’s a good team.”
Correa was scheduled to be officially introduced by the Giants on Tuesday, but the team announced that morning that the news conference was postponed without providing a reason. The Associated Press subsequently reported that an undisclosed medical concern arose during Correa’s physical examination, but sources throughout the industry who spoke to ESPN still believed the deal would be finalized.
Boras told the Post that there was a “difference of opinion” between Correa and the Giants over the results of the medical evaluation, and the Mets seized the opportunity to resume negotiations with the two-time All-Star, adding another superstar player in their aggressive pursuit of a championship.
Cohen told the Post that the agreement with Correa and Boras came together quickly because the Mets had initially fallen just short of a deal last week before Correa’s pending deal with the Giants.
“We kind of picked up where we were before, and it just worked out,” Cohen told the paper.
With Correa’s deal, the Mets have committed more than $800 million to free agents this offseason, and their competitive balance tax payroll now projects to be approximately $384 million. The fourth and final threshold of the luxury tax, commonly referred to as “the Steve Cohen tax,” sits at $293 million for the 2023 season, which means the Mets could be in for a tax bill in the neighborhood of $100 million next year.
“What the heck’s the difference?” Cohen told the Post in response to the Mets’ historic spending. “If you’re going to make the move, make the move.”
The Mets already brought back center fielder Brandon Nimmo and closer Edwin Diaz on nine-figure contacts, and signed starting pitchers Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana, relievers Adam Ottavino and David Robertson, and catcher Omar Narvaez.
If Correa’s deal with the Mets is finalized — this one, like his prior agreement with the Giants, is also pending the completion of a physical — he will team up with good friend and fellow Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor, who signed a 10-year, $341 million extension in April 2021. Lindor is expected to remain at shortstop, and Correa would move to third base, a dynamic that would undoubtedly remind fans of the pairing between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the Bronx.
“This really makes a big difference,” Cohen told the Post. “I felt like our pitching was in good shape. We needed one more hitter. This puts us over the top.”
Correa, 28, was one of the headliners of this year’s free agent class, alongside Aaron Judge and three other star-caliber shortstops in Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson, the five of whom have now attained a combined $1.4 billion in total guarantees. Correa is a Gold Glove Award winner who has batted .285/.366/.476 with 48 home runs and 156 RBIs in 284 games with the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins over the past two seasons.
Correa battled injuries to his thumb, back and ribs from 2017 to 2019, a three-year stretch in which he averaged just 98 games per season. But he has nonetheless accumulated 31.3 FanGraphs wins above replacement since his shortened American League Rookie of the Year campaign in 2015, 16th-highest among position players. A former No. 1 overall pick out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Correa spent his first seven major league seasons with the Astros, evolving into one of the leaders on a star-studded team that was tarnished by the sign-stealing scandal that tainted its championship in 2017.
Unable to land the long-term deal he coveted last offseason, Correa shocked the industry by signing a three-year, $105.3 million contract with the Twins, who also provided him with two opt-outs. Correa, who hired Boras as his agent at the start of 2022, exercised the first of those opt-outs after a solid 2022 season, venturing out into the free agent market once again.
Brandon Crawford, a three-time All-Star, has been the Giants’ shortstop since 2011. Crawford, who turns 36 next month, slumped to a .231 average with nine homers and 52 RBIs last season while dealing with injuries, down from a .298 average with 24 homers and 90 RBIs in 2021.
Crawford has a $16 million salary in 2023, then can become a free agent. He has dealt with injuries in recent seasons and might consider retirement at the conclusion of his deal, so the Giants were searching for a shortstop of the future.
The Giants went 81-81 last season, a year after winning a franchise-record 107 games and the NL West.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.