The free agent market has been slowly moving for about a week now, but most of the players to this point who have signed are pitchers. Eduardo Rodriguez went to the Detroit Tigers, Noah Syndergaard took a huge one-year deal to swap coasts and pitch for the Los Angeles Angels, and Justin Verlander showed loyalty to the Houston Astros and returned in a lucrative short-term contract.
The position players’ market, however, has remained stagnant. All of the high-profile shortstops — such as Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, and Javier Báez —are still available for the shortstop-needy New York Yankees.
Correa, in particular, would be a dream addition for the Bombers. Yes, he is expensive – he will probably push for a $300 million deal – but as far as fits go, there may not be a better one for the Yankees than their former nemesis.
The Puerto Rican shortstop has been a great offensive performer for years, as Correa’s career .277/.356/.481 line, 133 home runs, and 128 wRC+ suggest. He is hitting the market at a perfect age, 27, and may have several prime years left.
Correa is coming off one of his finest seasons. In 2021, he slashed .279/.366/.485 with 26 home runs, 104 runs scored, and 92 RBI. He had a 134 wRC+ and a career-high 5.8 fWAR.
CARLOS CORREA - Free Agent— Brandon Curry (@bdotcurry) November 17, 2021
2021 Percentile Ranks (min. 350 PA):
- .372 xwOBA (80th)
- 18.2 BRL/Whiff (80)
- 28.9 Run Value (80)
- 89.4 Zone Contact % (70)
- 27 O-Swing % (80)
- 0.65 EYE (80)
- 101 PRO (70)
- 134 wRC+ (80)
Perhaps the most impressive part of Correa’s resume is his postseason production. He turned 27 a month ago, and he is already seventh* on the all-time playoff home runs list, with 18. His overall line in the postseason is .272/.344/.505 with a .849 OPS and 59 RBI in 334 plate appearances. Many of his October heroics have come against the Yankees, as fans will probably remember.
*The expanded postseason obviously helps with Correa’s ranking, but remember that at least the three-tier playoff has been around for 26 years now, too.
As good as Correa’s offense is – he is very close to Corey Seager in that regard, and the Dodgers’ infielder is considered the best hitting shortstop of the class – his defense may be even better. Correa is the best fielder at his position in the 2021 free agent class, and that’s saying a lot because Báez, Story, and Semien are all above-average out there.
Correa won the 2021 Gold Glove and Platinum Glove just a few days ago, and is the kind of defender at shortstop that the Yankees haven’t had in a long, long time. He’s better than Didi Gregorius, so one would have think back to the days before Derek Jeter to find at least an equal fielder as a starting shortstop in pinstripes. Everything about Correa’s game is smooth: He is quick, he can make plays to his left and to his right, he has a cannon of an arm, and his instincts and baseball IQ are both top-notch.
The numbers don’t lie: Correa had 1.9 Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA), 21 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), 3.1 UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games), and 12 Outs Above Average, good for a 98th-percentile finish. Every defensive metric validates what the eye test suggests.
The Yankees have recently made it clear that they would be willing to let go of certain things of the past, such as the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal, which involved Correa. So it’s not impossible to see them bringing him in this offseason. In fact, they probably have as good of a chance as any other team.
A recent report suggests that the Tigers may not be willing to splash $300 million on Correa and are looking at the other top shortstops. However, that doesn’t mean the Yankees won’t face competition for the talented infielder, as Correa is the youngest big name on the market. The Phillies badly need to replace Didi Gregorius, and the Mariners are looking to make a splash in free agency. There is always the chance Correa returns to the Astros, too, and the Dodgers can never be discounted.
When all is said and done, Correa may or may not get those $300 million, but he will be darn close in any case. MLB Trade Rumors forecasted a 10-year, $320 million deal, while FanGraphs thinks he will get a 9-year, $297 pact.
Will the Yankees enter the bidding? It will be a fascinating storyline to follow during the offseason, but despite recent rumors, they have also continued to say that their budget will increase. Again, Correa fits the Yankees’ roster like a glove, so the time to make a statement and bring the top free agent available is now.