It's Carlos Correa's time ... to secure one of the most lucrative contracts in MLB history.
Once compared to a young Alex Rodriguez, Correa made good on those lofty expectations in 2021, slashing .279/.366/.485 with 26 home runs, 92 RBIs, 75 walks and a 5.8 fWAR.
What's more, the former No. 1 overall pick is one of the best defensive players at any position in baseball. Correa posted a staggering 21 defensive runs saved in 2021, earning him both a Gold Glove Award at shortstop and the American League's Platinum Glove Award.
While it's fair to have reservations about the issues that Correa had staying healthy between 2017 and 2019, he's largely been healthy over the last two seasons and has reached free agency ahead of his age-27 season. Here are five potential landing spots for the offseason's most coveted free agent:
In our free agent predictions, we projected that Correa will sign a 10-year/$325 million deal with the Tigers. This would reunite him with his former Astros manager A.J. Hinch, and allow Miguel Cabrera to pass the torch to him as the face of the Tigers. As the Tigers look to return to the postseason for the first time since 2014, Correa would be a tremendous investment.
New York Yankees
We're aware of the idea that the Yankees may not be willing to meet the contractual demands of Correa, and that may ultimately prove to be the case. With that said, this is a franchise that hasn't won a World Series since 2009, which isn't that long for a normal franchise, but it's incredibly long for the Yankees. With a major league roster built to win right now, we're not going to altogether discount the possibility that the Yankees end up with one of the top shortstops this offseason.
As MLB.com's Mike Petriello said in November, the biggest need on the Rangers roster is everything. While the in-state rival Astros have had the greatest five-year run in franchise history, the Rangers lost 102 games in 2021 and haven't been the playoffs since 2016. Signing Correa away from a division rival in the midst of his prime would be a pretty good place to start for the Rangers, who don't currently have any major financial commitments.
We're not going to entirely close this door, though it certainly appears to be in the process of shutting. Correa admitted that he turned down a six-year/$120 million extension offer before the 2021 season, and five-year/$160 million offer that Mark Berman of FOX 26 said the Astros extended to Correa in November isn't going to prove to be a competitive offer. Maybe Jim Crane's team will make an exception for their star shortstop, but the guess here is that Correa will join Gerrit Cole and George Springer as stars to depart Houston for paydays elsewhere.
St. Louis Cardinals
If the Cardinals do make a major investment at shortstop, it may be for the chance to reunite Trevor Story with Nolan Arenado. Not only would that be a great narrative, but Story's deal will likely be significantly shorter than the one that Correa eventually agrees to. With that said, the Cardinals have a need at the position after a very disappointing season from Paul DeJong. Ahead of Yadier Molina's final season, it would be pretty cool to see them go all-in and sign Correa in pursuit of a World Series.