SF Giants finally make big offensive signing

Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The rejections over the past few years have been well-documented: stars such as Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Shohei Ohtani and, just a week ago, Aaron Judge have been targeted and heavily pursued by the SF Giants, but each one has declined San Francisco's advances to play elsewhere. The pattern has become so entrenched that it wasn't far-fetched to think the team had a problem with their overall strategy of trying to woo free agents and high-profile trade targets.

Now you can throw those concerns out the window: late Tuesday, after days of wondering whether yet another top free agent would not see enough in the City by the Bay to make it his home for the next decade-plus, Jeff Passan of ESPN tweeted that the Giants had agreed to terms with All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa on a mind-boggling contract.

On top of the 13 years and $350 million, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Correa doesn't have any opt-outs and has a full no-trade clause - meaning if the Giants want to trade him anywhere they have to get his permission first.

Correa, the first overall pick of the 2012 amateur draft out of Puerto Rico by the Houston Astros, reached the Major Leagues in 2015 and has been a star when healthy. He won the American League Rookie of the Year award that first season when he batted .279 with 22 home runs in just 99 games after beginning the campaign in the minor leagues, was an All-Star in 2017 and helped lead the Astros to their first World Series title, and finished fifth in Most Valuable Player voting while winning a Gold Glove in 2021.

Staying on the field has been a problem for the 28-year-old, 6-foot-4 shortstop, however. Only twice in six full seasons since 2016 has he played over 140 games (though in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season he played in 58 of a possible 60 contests), and in 2022 with the Minnesota Twins he got into 136 games - missing time in both mid-May and early-June.

In six full seasons plus his late callup in 2015 and the 2020 pandemic schedule, Correa has participate in 888 total games out of over 1,100 played by his teams.

A career .279 hitter with 155 homers and a .836 OPS, Correa should boost the Giants offense as a player who doesn't need to be platooned or pinch-hit for. He might hit for less power than his average of 28 per 162 games, but for most of the first decade of his contract Correa can be a steady presence in the lineup.

What will the SF Giants do at shortstop with Correa in the mix?

With the signing, the Giants now have both players who won Gold Glove honors at shortstop in 2021, as longtime fan favorite Brandon Crawford took home the National League award.

Crawford still has one year left on the two-year extension he signed late in 2021, and he has never played a single inning in the Majors at a position other than his natural shortstop. Correa, however, also has not played another position at the highest level (the only difference between the two is that Correa has seen his name next to "designated hitter" on the lineup card a total of six times in his career, while Crawford hasn't even played a single game at DH).

So, how will Gabe Kapler and the coaching staff handle having two outstanding fielders at one of the most important positions on the field? One will have to move, at least for this year. Speculation over the offseason has revolved around one of the free agent shortstops being willing to play second or third base for a season while Crawford finished out his contract, but would Crawford be willing to move for a player almost eight years younger? Nostalgia with the dynasty generation of Giants players has been important to fans, so it's not out of the question that Correa will be asked - or has already agreed to - play the hot corner in 2023 before switching back to his normal spot.