The 2021-22 MLB offseason has been somewhat atypical in many senses.
First, there is a transaction lockout coming, stemming from the fact that the league and the players’ association haven’t agreed on a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) and a resolution isn’t expected soon.
Second, teams used December 1 as sort of a deadline to make transactions because of the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the offseason.
This situation resulted in most free agents signing up until Wednesday.
One notable player, however, is notably missing from the list of those who signed: shortstop Carlos Correa.
Correa Could Get The Largest Free Agent Contract In MLB
Widely regarded as the best investment due to age, talent, and track record, Correa’s camp decided to wait until after the lockout to commit to a team.
That may or may not affect his market, but he has one thing working in his favor: the 10-year, $325 million deal that Corey Seager signed with the Texas Rangers this week.
Those two were always the most likely players to surpass the $300 million threshold, but again, Correa was seen as a more complete player, although with a slightly lower offensive ceiling than Seager.
If Seager was able to get $325 million, one has to think Correa, who is a few months younger and with a superior glove, will get more when he signs.
Will anyone give Correa something that exceeds the Seager contract at 10 years in length?
Doe she settle for a much higher AAV but shorter length?
— Frank M (@2BfrankM) November 30, 2021
He actually has a chance to get a record free agent deal if he gets more than Bryce Harper’s $330 million in 2019.
Correa is a vastly superior defensive shortstop than Seager, and is fresh off winning a Gold Glove.
Offensively, Seager has a tiny edge, but it is really small.
The wRC+ stat (weighted Runs Created Plus) allows us to determine how much better or worse than average an offensive player is, with 100 being average and anything over that number considered positive.
Seager has a career 132 wRC+, while Correa has a 128 mark.
In short, they are pretty comparable with the bat, but Correa’s defensive prowess makes the difference.
A Truly Elite Performer
The former Houston Astros star, currently one of the most accomplished postseason performers, too, had one of his finest seasons in 2021.
He slashed .279/.366/.485 with 26 home runs, 104 runs, 92 RBI, a 134 wRC+, and 5.8 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR.
It was the highest WAR Correa has accumulated in a season, and the third time he surpassed the 5.0 threshold.
To sign a record deal, however, Correa’s camp needs to hope that most of the teams looking for a shortstop don’t fill the position; and don’t spend the money to upgrade elsewhere.
So, the market is a bit tricky at this point: Correa needs to sign soon after the lockout is lifted, or he risks losing leverage the closer spring training gets.
Right now, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Phillies need a star shortstop.
The Astros, Correa’s former team, need one too, but they have made it clear they won’t approach $300 million and can be considered out unless the price drops.
At the moment, Correa’s price doesn’t have a reason to drop: to the contrary, he should command more than Seager.
Correa is gonna command a record setting contract. They are not coming close to that number. Unless his demands drop significantly that's not happening. Just a pipe dream
— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) November 30, 2021
But his camp should be careful not to let things drag too much in an uncertain market for everybody.