The SF Giants missed out on the Aaron Judge sweepstakes, but have they quickly pivoted to another top target? According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Giants along with the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago Cubs are in the mix for star shortstop Carlos Correa.
Can the SF Giants outbid the competition for Carlos Correa?
After Heyman's egregious blunder earlier this week, it is hard to take anything he says at face value. With that being said, he is still one of the more well-connected baseball insiders in the industry.
Correa would be an excellent fit for any of the three teams mentioned by Heyman. He is coming off of a strong season at the plate, slashing .291/.366/.467 (140 OPS+) with 22 home runs, 64 RBI, and 70 runs in 590 plate appearances. In addition to this, he posted good defensive marks as he was worth +3 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and -3 Oiuts Above Average (OAA).
Since he debuted in 2015, he has been worth +70 DRS and +23 OAA, meaning that he has been an excellent glove according to the metrics. In that time, only Andrelton Simmons (+133 DRS) has been better in terms of DRS, whereas Correa ranks as the seventh-best shortstop in terms of OAA.
The question is not necessarily whether Correa is a good fit for the Giants, Twins, or Cubs. The question is whether the Giants can outbid the other two teams if that is Correa's primary market. I think the answer is yes, but it bears mentioning that the star shortstop will command the type of deal that the front office is hesitant to offer.
Josh Donaldson's four-year, $92 million pact is the largest free-agent expenditure that the Twins have ever made. Correa's three-year, $105 million deal could be considered for this, but it included an opt-out after one season. In essence, it was a one-year deal.
On the other hand, the Cubs have been busy modestly building up the roster by signing some key free agents like pitchers Jameson Taillon and Marcus Stroman as well as outfielder Seiya Suzuki. They could certainly be in the mix. However, it bears mentioning that they watched a handful of franchise stars in Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Báez, and Willson Contreras depart via trade or free agency in the last 18 months.
In the case of Contreras, he just signed a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. He has been one of the better catchers since he debuted with the Cubs in 2016 and went to a division rival on a very reasonable deal.
When players like Brandon Nimmo and Xander Bogaerts are getting eight years and 11 years, respectively, a five-year deal seems like a very smart move. Maybe the Cubs are ready to get into a bidding war for Correa, but it would almost seem inconsistent with how they have operated recently. Taillon, Stroman, and Suzuki were all good deals, but they were in the same type of risk profile as the Giants like with respect to length. Maybe Correa is an exception for Chicago but I have my doubts.
That leaves the Giants, who bid aggressively on both Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge in recent years. They have the money to spend. I do not think there is a question about that. It is more about whether they want to get involved in a 12-year deal for Correa.
That is likely what it will take as both Bogaerts and Trea Turner have landed 11-year deals this winter. If the Giants want to land a star shortstop, it is going to take them well out of their comfort zone. At the very least, they are one of the top destinations for Correa. They need to prove to Correa that they are willing to spend to land a star.