Two days ago, the first direct local rumor connecting the Chicago Cubs and free agent shortstop Carlos Correa dropped from Bruce Levine. According to the report, the Cubs and Correa had “mutual interest” before the lockout began, and the two sides figure to pick things back up when the offseason resumes. The only problem, however, is that Correa is likely looking for a deal in the 10-year range, while the Cubs have been very clear about their intentions not to do a deal of significant length this offseason.
But what does that really mean? If they’re serious about Correa, certainly they’re willing to do something significant, right? Well, actually, yes. At least, according to Levine, who expanded on his initial report earlier today on ESPN Radio.
“The consensus is a seven-year deal would be probably what the Cubs are gonna try to convince Correa of doing. I don’t know if that’s going to get it done.”
That’s awfully specific right there, no?
When Brett tried to imagine a short-term deal for Carlos Correa, he was contemplating offers in the five-year range – the Astros’ final offer before free agency – which is short-term for a free agent of his caliber. So seven years, then, can be categorized as maybe more than a short-term deal for a guy like Correa, which means, assuming this report is correct, that the Cubs are willing to get out of their comfort zone for him. That’s good – if they weren’t, this wasn’t going to happen anyway.
Although we don’t know what kind of average annual value the Cubs would be offering in this range of years, we can make some educated guesses. For example, we know the Astros tried to get Correa at five-years and $160 million ($32M AAV). We also know that the Tigers offered Correa a ten-year, $275M deal ($27.5M AAV). And that Francisco Lindor ($34M AAV over ten years) and Corey Seager ($32.5M AAV over ten years) helped raise the floor, with higher average annual values over a full ten-years.
With all that in mind, I’d think a seven-year deal for Correa is going to have to start at the Lindor AAV, which means we’re talking about a seven-year, $238M deal ($34M/year). Indeed, you’d probably have to top the Anthony Rendon deal to even have a conversation – that was seven years and $245 million ($35M/year). But that’s all just a guess to illustrate the range we’re talking about here. Nothing more.
Before we get too far down our own hypothetical rabbit hole, Levine did have more to say on the subject.
For one, Levine reports that plenty of teams are interested in Carlos Correa, but quickly added that “the Chicago Cubs may indeed be the ones to step up and step forward,” once the lockout is over. He also said that the impending arrival of the universal DH will help NL teams like the Cubs make a commitment to a position player with a checkered injury history like Correa. He also said they “have a lot of money to spend and a lot of it may go toward Carlos Correa.”
For another, in terms of specifics, Levine added that any deal will likely come with opt-outs, potentially multiple: “Opt-out after three years or after four years or both .… It could work both ways, where Correa gets the opportunity to opt-out after even two years and maybe get another fortune from someone else.” If true, that’s where the Cubs’ willingness to go above and beyond in shorter-term AAV could benefit both sides.
Either way, it seems this rumor has real legs, at least as far as Levine is concerned. We should keep the conspiracy theories to a minimum, but it’s impossible not to at least note that Levine works for 670 The Score (the Cubs radio partner) and contributes at Marquee (the Cubs TV network). Getting real numbers out into the world during the lockout isn’t the same thing as “negotiating,” but it certainly does serve to a remind a player that a team is (reportedly) serious about their interest if the price tag is in a certain range.
In sum: The Chicago Cubs and Carlos Correa have shown mutual interest in each other and figure to pick it back up after the lockout. Correa is likely still seeking a ten-year deal at a monster AAV, with opt-outs throughout, while the Cubs would probably prefer to do something shorter term – maybe five or six years at an even bigger AAV. So consensus forming around something in the seven-year range, with multiple opt-outs, is a plausible middle ground. We’ll be following this as closely as we can in the weeks ahead.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.