It wasn’t any secret that Carlos Correa was looking to score big in free agency, and the shortstop set a very high asking price prior to the lockout. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter), Correa was asking for at least a $330MM contract, with an overall range of $330MM to $350MM. It is unclear whether or not this pause in the baseball offseason could impact Correa’s demands, or if his position atop the free agent market will keep him relatively immune to the lockout’s effects on the market as a whole, even though teams will have less time to negotiate prior to the start of the season.
Correa was clearly targeting a pair of other recent mega-deals for shortstops — the ten-year, $325MM pact Corey Seager signed with the Rangers just prior to the lockout, and the ten-year, $341MM extension Francisco Lindor signed with the Mets last spring. (Lindor’s contract also stands as the third-richest baseball contract ever, behind the Mike Trout and Mookie Betts extensions.) Prior to the offseason, MLB Trade Rumors projected Correa to land ten years and $320MM as the winter’s top free agent deal, though with Seager already topping that price, it stands to reason that Correa would set his sights even higher.
With Seager, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baez already landing new contracts within an extremely loaded free agent shortstop market, Correa and Trevor Story are the top shortstops remaining, and a great deal of speculation remains over whether either player will land. The uncertainty around Story mainly focuses on his comparatively average 2021 season and questions about his production away from Coors Field, while with Correa, the primary question may be which team is willing to step up and meet his contract demands.
The Rangers and Tigers have already made their big shortstop signings, though Detroit (a big pre-winter favorite to land Correa) is perhaps still a candidate if the Tigers looked to pair up both Correa and Baez within the infield. Other teams like the Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, Astros, and Yankees had also been in touch with Correa before the lockout, and it is always possible that a new suitor or two could emerge amidst the transactional frenzy that is sure to ensue when the lockout ends. Depending on what happens in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, an altered set of financial rules could very well bring more teams into the mix for Correa’s services.
Since Correa just hired the Boras Corporation as his new representatives yesterday, it’s probably safe to assume that he isn’t now willing to settle for a discount, given Scott Boras’ penchant for wanting top dollar for his clients. Just within this shortstop market alone, Boras represented both Seager and Semien as they combined for $500MM from the Rangers. Between deferrals, opt-out clauses, “swellopts,” and other contractual language, Boras has used any number of creative tactics over the years to get his clients their desired salary, while also making teams feel more comfortable about their financial outlay.