Carlos Correa has reportedly agreed to his third free-agent deal of the offseason, this one a six-year, $200 million pact to return to the Minnesota Twins. The star shortstop previously struck tentative agreements with the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, only to see the deals stall out and then disintegrate over concerns that arose during his physical.
BREAKING: Shortstop Carlos Correa and the Minnesota Twins are finalizing a six-year, $200 million contract, sources tell ESPN. The deal has a vesting option that can max out at $270 million. It is pending physical.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 10, 2023
According to the Associated Press, the deal includes options for the 2029 through 2032 seasons, with each becoming guaranteed if Correa records 502 or more plate appearances the previous season. The vesting options could make the deal worth as much as $270 million over 10 seasons.
This deal, like the previous two, is pending a physical — a typically perfunctory hurdle that has turned into an existential threat in Correa’s case. While teams are barred from releasing a player’s medical information, reports have centered on a broken leg Correa suffered as a minor leaguer in 2014. He has never missed time due to the surgically repaired leg but made mention of the metal plate in it after he appeared shaken up following a hard slide in a September game.
Correa, a 28-year-old who entered the winter as one of the sport’s most prized free agents, agreed to a 13-year, $350 million deal with the Giants on Dec. 13. That fell apart with Correa already in town for an introductory news conference, and the Mets swooped in during the early morning hours of Dec. 21. Team owner Steve Cohen and agent Scott Boras reportedly negotiated a 12-year, $315 million pact while Cohen was vacationing in Hawaii.
With the Mets, Correa was expected to move to third base to play alongside fellow Puerto Rican superstar Francisco Lindor. But soon enough, the Mets also raised questions about Correa’s physical, and the deal remained in limbo through the holidays and into January. In Minnesota, Correa will reassume control of the shortstop position — and likely a major leadership role on a younger team.
The latest agreement slashes the term of the deal in half, perhaps allaying some of the concerns about durability that tripped up the Giants and Mets. (The Twins, of course, performed a physical on Correa less than a year ago when he joined them as a free agent in March 2022.) The $200 million guarantee gives him the highest annual salary of a ballyhooed shortstop class that included Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson but less total money than Turner and Bogaerts.
Where Correa initially followed the trend of decade-long mega-deals, he will now ink a more conventional deal — if this one finally gets completed. The deal's average annual value ranks fourth among the winter's free agents, behind Justin Verlander, Aaron Judge and Jacob deGrom.
This is Correa’s second straight winter slogging through a drawn-out free agency. Prior to 2022, he sought a long-term deal but instead watched as Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez signed. After MLB’s lockout ended, he surprised everyone by taking a short-term deal with the Twins that allowed him to opt out and hit the market again this year. He went out and batted .291 with 22 homers and a 140 OPS+ across 136 games for Minnesota and then threw his hat into the ring again — looking and acting like a franchise player.
Against all odds, the saga of this second free-agency has dwarfed the original. Both the Giants and the Mets seemed to see the bright lights of a foundational star. The Giants pivoted to Correa after their pursuit of New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge came up short. The Mets had plenty of star power on hand, but as Cohen told the New York Post after appearing to secure Correa’s services, “We needed one more thing, and this is it.”
Correa has missed time due to injuries in his career, but prior to this winter’s deal-stopping physicals, the most worrisome among them was a back problem that cost him time in 2018 and '19. The longtime Astros shortstop — a key member of the 2017 World Series team later disgraced by the sign-stealing scandal — rates as one of the majors’ best defensive shortstops and consistently puts up star-caliber offensive numbers. All packaged together, it amounts to a player FanGraphs’ Steamer system projects as one of the game’s 20 best position players in 2023.