For the second consecutive offseason, Carlos Correa is one of the most intriguing position players on the free agent market.
Following a career-year with the Houston Astros that saw him post a 6.2 WAR, Correa became a free agent last season, hoping to land a decade-long deal.
Instead, the Texas Rangers chose to offer Corey Seager a 10-year/$325 million deal, which he accepted. Despite many believing Correa was the top free agent entering the offseason, the best offer he got was a 10-year/$275 million one from the Detroit Tigers, which he didn't jump at. Ultimately, Correa ended up "settling" for a three-year/$105.3 million deal with the Minnesota Twins, that included opt outs after each season.
While he didn't have as many RBI opportunities, Correa's overall offensive production in 2022 was pretty similar to his final season in Houston:
2021: .279/.366/.485 with 26 home runs, 92 RBIs, 75 walks and an .834 OPS
2022: .291/.366/.467 with 22 home runs, 64 RBIs, 61 walks and an .834 OPS
Correa wasn't, however, able to duplicate his defensive production from 2021, when he won both the Gold Glove Award from American League shortstops and the Platinum Glove as the junior circuit's best overall defender:
2021: 20 defensive runs saved, 12 outs above average, 2.9 defensive WAR
2022: 3 defensive runs saved, -3 outs above average, 1.1 defensive WAR
Perhaps there will be a bounce-back for Correa in the field in 2023, especially if a team feels like defensive positioning in Minnesota had something to do with the decline he saw.
Regardless, the former No. 1 overall pick is a free-agent once again after exercising his opt out, this time entering his age-28 campaign. A ton of teams would probably love to have the two-time All-Star, but here are five teams that could legitimately sign Correa:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Early in free agency, there appears to be a lot of smoke surrounding the idea that Trea Turner could leave the Dodgers to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. In the event Turner isn't back in Los Angeles next season, Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers can pick from the other three star free agents at the position; Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson. Jon Heyman of The New York Post reported in late October that the Dodgers view Correa as their "1A" option, if things don't go their way with Turner. Obviously, some Dodgers fans would have to set aside their distaste for anyone involved with the 2017 Astros team that defeated them in a seven-game World Series under questionable circumstances. The guess here is that once Correa was wearing Dodger blue, it would be pretty easy to get over any ill will from 2017, especially since LA has won a World Series title since and Correa would help put them in position to capture another.
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago, representatives of the Cubs chatted with super-agent Scott Boras at the MLB GM meetings in early November. Boras, of course, represents both Correa and Bogaerts. After a miserable first half of the season, David Ross' Cubs went 39-31 (.557) post All-Star Break, a sign that a young team may be turning the corner. That may not necessarily mean that the Cubs will open 2022 as the favorites to win the NL Central, but Correa is young enough still to grow with the team. And who knows, as of now, the NL Central projects to be a pretty miserable division in 2023.
Correa seemed to take a liking to Minnesota in 2022, but you don't get the feeling that he's going to be giving the Twins a hometown discount. Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and the Twins were willing to commit to Correa on a short-term basis with a high average-annual value last winter when the market he hoped for didn't materialize. Whether they're going to be willing to do so for a decade, give or take, remains to be seen.
San Francisco Giants
Finding diamond in the roughs is great, as is having a slew of veterans have career renaissances well into their 30s. The Giants had a magical season utilizing that formula in 2021, when they won a franchise-record 107 games. It didn't work out quite as well in 2022, when they slipped to an 81-81 record. At a certain point, Farhan Zaidi and the Giants need to attempt to match some of the star power in both Los Angeles and San Diego if they want to be a consistent threat to win the NL West. The Giants would need to figure out a solution with franchise icon Brandon Crawford, who is an all-time great fielder at shortstop and has one year left on his contract. But as Brady Klopfer of McCovey Chronicles notes, for the right price, perhaps Correa or another star free agent could play elsewhere on the diamond for a season.
The Orioles obviously erred in not ponying up the amount of money it would have taken to retain Manny Machado for the entirety of his career, but that's distant history now. The good news in Baltimore is that an Orioles team full of young talent turned in a surprising 83-79 record in 2022, even in a loaded AL East. Robert Murray of FanSided noted last month that Orioles' general manager Mike Elias was the amateur scouting director in Houston when the Astros selected Correa with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Perhaps he'll land Correa again this offseason if he has the clearance to make the biggest investment in franchise history.