Undoubtedly, one of the hottest commodities on the free-agent market this offseason will be Houston Astros’ shortstop Carlos Correa.
At just 27-years-old, Correa is hitting free agency still firmly in his prime, and he will command a massive payday.
After rejecting a five-year, $125 million offer from the Astros, it would not be shocking if Correa is eyeing something in the range of 10 years, $300 million.
Given his season, where he has hit .279/.366/.485 with 26 home runs, 92 runs batted in, and 104 runs scored, it would not be shocking if he got it. According to Baseball-Reference, Correa’s WAR (wins above replacement) for the season sits at 7.2.
Furthermore, he has proven that his injury concerns might be a thing of the past. After not having exceeded 110 games played from 2017 to 2019, the star shortstop played in 148 games this year.
As an elite defender and offensive threat, he can certainly help any team. Here is a look at three teams that could certainly use him, and could pull the trigger on his asking price.
New York Yankees
Any time there is a big free agent, the New York Yankees always seem to be involved. They are also no stranger to plucking Astros’ free agents as they signed ace pitcher Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million dollar deal just a couple years ago.
They also have a significant hole at the position. This season, the Yankees moved Gleyber Torres to second base as he just proved unable to man the position effectively.
While they were able to scrap by with Gio Urshela, Carlos Correa would be a significant upgrade both defensively and at the plate.
He might not be the most favored acquisition given the disdain Yankees’ fans have for the Astros after the cheating scandal, but he certainly could help the fans get over it with his play on the field.
This might be the most interesting of the possibilities given the connection Correa has with the Tigers’ manager, A.J. Hinch. As the Astros former manager, it seems like a natural connection that could draw Correa to Detroit.
While the Tigers finished just 77-85, they showed a ton of upside and could be one of the surprise teams of the 2022 season, especially with the right offseason additions.
Like the Yankees, the Tigers have a need at shortstop. Niko Goodrum was one of the options Hinch turned to this season, but he hit just .214 with nine home runs and 33 runs batted in.
According to spotrac.com, the Tigers could have just a little over $103 million in open payroll under the tax threshold. While there is obviously no guarantee that they will get even close to the luxury tax threshold, they certainly have the room for a big contract like Correa if they wanted to.
This fan let Carlos Correa know what time it was after he struck out 😅
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) October 19, 2021
After being drafted first overall in the 2012 draft by Houston, the Astros are the only franchise that Correa has ever known. For that reason, they certainly can’t be counted out from re-signing him.
Granted, they are going to have to do better than their preseason offer. Correa has made it known that he wants to be paid, and that has only intensified since putting up big numbers this season.
Owner Jim Crane acknowledged the need for a higher commitment recently, and did not seem completely opposed to pursuing a contract with the star shortstop.
The Astros will have room to afford him. After all, they have Justin Verlander ($33 million) and Zack Greinke ($24.6 million) both coming off the books after the season.
The big question is whether general manager James Click would prefer to pay the money to retain Correa or roll with an alternative like rookie Jeremy Pena. In 37 games this season, including in Triple-A, Pena hit .297/.363/.579 with 10 home runs in just 145 at bats.
There is obviously no guarantee that Pena can make the leap to the pros, but it may be worth it to the Astros to find out as opposed to paying the premium price on Correa.
Regardless, it certainly appears that Carlos Correa is in for a huge payday, it is just a matter of who is willing to pony up to sign the superstar.