When the offseason began, the two teams most often connected to the elite free agent shortstop class were the Rangers and Tigers. And together, they’ve already signed three of the top five guys (Marcus Semien and Corey Seager to Texas, Javy Báez to Detroit). That leaves Carlos Correa and Trevor Story still without homes, with the most obvious landing spots melting away.
Remember, the Dodgers already have Trea Turner under control for one more season. And the prevailing wisdom there was that they’d be happy to re-sign Corey Seager if they could, but would otherwise prefer to extend Turner if they didn’t. Moreover, Ken Rosenthal believes that if they spend big on a non-Seager position player this offseason, it’ll be Freddie Freeman.
On the other coast, the Yankees were also said to be in on Seager, whose left-handed bat up the middle fits their stated offseason goals, but now that he’s gone, will they really pivot to Carlos Correa? In addition to the fact that he’s right-handed, Rosenthal thinks the answer is no: “The Yankees want a new shortstop, but a number of their players view Correa with contempt because he was part of the Astros’ illegal sign stealing in 2017 and ‘18, and New York does not seem to be playing at the top of the shortstop market, anyway.”
Running down the rest of the usual suspects, Rosenthal explains why Correa does *not* make sense for …
(1) The Mariners, who have other big free agent interests this offseason (Kris Bryant) and have already committed to J.P. Crawford at short (plus, they added Adam Frazier to the infield mix last week).
(2) The Red Sox, who still have Xander Bogaerts and an apparent reluctance to commit that much to one free agent.
(3) The Cardinals, who aren’t likely to add ANOTHER high-priced infielder alongside Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, and are more focused on pitching this offseason
(4) The Phillies, who already have Didi Gregorius at short and two pricey position players in Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, and are also more focused on pitching.
(5) The Blue Jays, who have already committed to $251M this offseason and would have to move Bo Bichette off short to accommodate Correa.
(6) The Angels, who are still focused on pitching.
(7) And the Twins, who aren’t likely to spend as much as it would take.
So where does that leave us? Well, first of all, let’s not get too crazy here: Correa is still the top free agent available this offseason. Every team could use him and most of the problems above can be remedied one way or another. You can’t ACTUALLY just rule all of those teams out with a quick sentence.
But, well, let me just show you the closing paragraph of Rosenthal’s article wondering where Correa will end up now that his “most obvious fit,” the Tigers, are out of the running:
Make no mistake: Some team will sign Correa, and for major dollars. Maybe the Nationals or Cubs would want him to be the centerpiece of their rebuilding program. Maybe some other team that currently does not appear to be a fit will trade their shortstop to create a spot. But the Tigers were the most obvious fit. And now the Tigers’ opening is gone.
You can laugh all you want – I certainly don’t expect the Cubs to sign Correa! – but those sorts of mentions from guys like Rosenthal are not usually *entirely* out of thin air, at least at a conceptual level. I would not hold your breath on the Cubs becoming a surprisingly serious pursuer of Carlos Correa. Really, I would not. But Correa has mentioned very nice things about the Cubs, we don’t believe they can afford to sit out of the top end of free agency, and the Cubs have been loosely connected to the free agent shortstop class throughout the winter.
So who knows. What if Correa stays on the market long enough to learn that he can’t top Corey Seager’s new deal, and some surprising team decides that’s actually too great of a value to pass up? (Maybe the Cubs didn’t just sign Yan Gomes to replace Willson Contreras after a trade. Maybe they actually went out and got made their biggest free agent position player expenditure since JASON HEYWARD (seriously) because they wanted the best possible backup catcher for Willson Contreras – that was a glaring need.)
I’m being blindly optimistic at this point to even have this discussion, and I still don’t think it’s likely. But for a moment, while reading Rosenthal’s post – he said it, not me! – I let myself dream and it felt nice. Maybe there’s more niceness to come? Or at least a little period of dreaming.