In a normal timeline, we might be talking about Carlos Correa and the Cubs with references to Santa Claus and Christmas presents, but with MLB locking out the players, we know there will be no surprise this week. Or next week. Or probably until February at the earliest.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new things to discuss on the Correa-Cubs front, so this will have to do for your Christmas Eve reading …
⇒ Bruce Levine is doing WORK this week. He dropped the big report earlier about the Cubs’ serious interest in Carlos Correa (mutual interest, even), and then got into some seven-year specifics on ESPN Radio in Houston. Then he followed it up with another appearance on 670 The Score, getting even more specific. There, he was throwing out a hypothetical deal structure where the Cubs would offer Correa seven years and $224 million – a deal that almost certainly wouldn’t get it done, but is arguably better than the 10/$275 million offer from the Tigers. The key, in Levine’s view, is that the offer would come with an opt out after just two years, and would be front-loaded so that those first two years would come at a much higher AAV. Levine’s suggestion was $37 million per year for those first two years (tops Mike Trout’s $35.5 million AAV), so that Correa would, for those two years, be the highest-paid position player in baseball. Then, at age 29, he has the option to opt back out into free agency to top the remaining 5/$150 million remaining on the deal.
⇒ My reactions are: (1) the structure is not crazy or just for show, and MAYBE there are numbers that would make more sense for Correa and the Cubs than a simple 10/$325 million deal (or whatever); (2) the AAV in those first two years is going to have to be muuuuch higher, though, in my view; and (3) I’m still not convinced Correa won’t be able to get his 10-year guarantee *AND* get *MULTIPLE* opt outs after years two, three, four, whatever.
⇒ Jon Morosi also joined The Score to discuss the Correa-Cubs reporting, and he definitely was not poo-poo’ing anything. If the Cubs are willing to spend, Morosi said, the environment has improved for them to land him. Specifically, Morosi thinks the Tigers signing Javy Báez, combined with Correa not signing before the lockout began, combine to make it possible not only that the Cubs could land Correa but also that he might not get a 10-year offer from any team. There are a lot of other conceivable teams, including the Yankees, Braves, Dodgers, and Astros. But even a team like the Cubs makes sense, according to Morosi, because you never know when you can get the same caliber of player on the same kind of deal, so now might be the time to push, even if you don’t think you’re an obvious contender in 2022-23.
⇒ As expected, regardless of the length of the deal, Morosi expects Correa to get the highest AAV of any of the free agent position players this offseason, so you can surmise that he’s not taking a deal that pays him less than $32.5 million annually (the Corey Seager deal).
⇒ For what it’s worth, Cody Decker (who has become a bit of an insider in his post-playing days, and podcasts with Jon Heyman) thinks Correa to the Cubs is a real possibility:
— BetQL (@betqlapp) December 23, 2021
⇒ A general thought here: so far, that’s two connected folks who had an opportunity to throw cold water on the idea that Carlos Correa could wind up with the Cubs, and neither even came close to doing so. This is going to have legs for a bit longer, at least until the lockout ends and (I’m guessing) another big market org or two gets more seriously involved. It happens every offseason. But the Cubs are in this thing.