Mets agree to Carlos Correa deal: His place in the lineup, payroll impact and more

For a team with record salaries already in the midst of an unprecedented spending spree in the sport, Mets owner Steve Cohen has one more massive signing left: Carlos Correa’s Midnight trading.

Correa agreed to a 12-year, $315 million deal with the Mets after reports that the announcement of his deal with the Giants was delayed because the results of his medical had not yet been resolved, major league sources said. confirmed Athletic. This deal is pending in kind. For New York, he’s expected to play third base.

Here’s a step-by-step explanation of why adding Correa was necessary, what it means for the Mets’ payroll in 2023 and beyond, and what the lineup could look like.

Why is this necessary?

The Mets are working on it. By working hard, anything but the World Series with the highest salary in baseball history will disappoint. Going after the best position players only makes sense if you’re going to build the best team money can buy.

The Mets should be commended for what they have accomplished this winter in rebuilding their pitching staff. But, remember, Cohen is also a fan of his. The complaints from fans last season are still there: How is the lineup? To be clear, an offensive upgrade isn’t some weird desire. The Mets have been great on offense. That said, regressions are possible, and they still have room for improvement.

The Mets finished third in wRC+ (116) last season. By re-signing Brandon Nemo two weeks ago, the Mets are at least expected to fight back with a lineup that excels at working pitchers, touch and hits. Still, their group struggled in the closing stages, taking just one shot in the wild-card series’ knockout round against the Padres. While the Mets rank eighth in slugging percentage (.412), they trail playoff teams like the Cardinals, Phillies, Dodgers and Braves in that category. The Mets are 15th in home runs with just 171. Trying to extend the lineup, especially someone who can provide more power, is a worthwhile endeavor.

How is Correa’s physical condition?

Cohen also did something unconventional: He acknowledged it before the deal went live, telling the New York Post, “There’s one more thing we need, and this is it.” The team will never say anything about the reported trade. reason? As one former executive put it, it’s harder to get out of a deal if a club finds a physical problem. At this point, the Giants announced Tuesday’s press conference, but never said what it was for.

It’s unclear what Correa’s medical issues are with the Giants, but the Mets are clearly hoping their deal with him will be finalized.They swooped in and made the signing because they were seriously pursuing him just last week before he agreed to San Francisco because Athletic Be the first to report.

The Mets went through a similar situation in 2021 with a trade for Kumar Rocker, who, like Correa, is a Scott Boras client. The Mets selected Rock with the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft, and the two verbally agreed to a contract. But post-draft medical issues caused New York to withdraw.

What will Correa add?

Correa has never hit more than 26 home runs in a season, but he hits 20-25 regularly, and scouts say since he’s still in his prime, hitting 30 might just be time issue. year. Correa is analytical and his statistics match his intelligence. In 2022, he ranks in the top 7 percent in xwOBA, or projected weighted on-base average. He hits the ball hard, finds the barrel and takes a walk.

The Mets have a cumulative wRC+ of 102 at third base, which is near average. Eduardo Escobar had a solid September, boosting that number with an OPS of . 982 — the best month of his career. Escobar finished with solid numbers — 106 wRC+, 0.726 OPS — but Correa would be a sizeable upgrade at the position.

Over the past two years, Correa has slugged .476 — the only third basemen with higher slugging percentages in that span are Rafael Devers (.530), Austin Riley (.529 ), Jose Ramirez (.526), ​​Nolan Arenado (.513) and Manny Machado (.511).

Over the past two years, Correa has an OPS of .842 — the only third basemen with better OPSs in that period are Riley (.887), Devers (.885), Ramírez (.881), Machado (.867) and Arenado (. 848).

Over the past two years, Correa has 136 wRC+s — the only third basemen with better wRC+s in that span are Riley (139), Ramírez (138), Devers (137) and Machado (137).

Where does this put the Mets’ payroll?

The Mets’ total salary program is approximately $495 million. That figure includes a tax penalty that alone would cost more than $110 million. No baseball team has ever paid more than $350 million in salary.

Consider the Mets a few years ago under previous ownership under Fred and Jeff Wilpon. New York’s 2015-19 payroll never hit $160 million.

Correa’s $26.2 million AAV would be the Mets’ fourth-biggest player behind Max Scherzer ($43.3 million), Justin Verlander ($43.3 million) and Francisco Lindor ($31.9 million).

Before offseason spending kicks in, AthleticTim Britton’s expected eight years and $260 million. Britton used Machado — a former shortstop who moved to third base — and his trade with the Padres as comparisons. That was before long-term contracts were all the rage this winter. Britton’s projected deal gives Correa an average annual value of $32.5 million. That would be high, even for the Mets. Earlier this winter, deals like Trea Turner’s $300 million ($27.2 million AAV) 11-year deal with the Phillies and Xander Bogaerts’ 11-year, $280 million ($25.4 million AAV) deal with the Padres were likely based on Extended length for luxury tax purposes, which means lower AAV.

When learning of the Mets’ interest in Correa last week and asking for a contract forecast, industry sources said it wouldn’t be a shock to see the contract stretch to 13 years. That’s the length of the $350 million ($26.9 million AAV) the Giants offered him. The Mets’ 12-year, $315 million offer puts Correa in a similar AAV.

What about long-term money?

Yes, they can still sign Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and as long as Cohen remains the Mets owner, New York should be considered the best candidate to sign him. The Mets trade for Correa shouldn’t change that.

For the Mets, a long-term contract with Correa makes sense. They have flexibility. And Correa could be a star worth having for a while.

After their decision this winter, the Mets are also poised to pass at least the first-tier threshold in 2024 — even if Scherzer opts out, their total AAV for players with guaranteed contracts is already $205 million Dollar, that’s just nine players.

The 2024 total also doesn’t take into account the end of 2023, and Ohtani is one of several free agents the Mets might want to add. It also doesn’t reflect how much the Mets ultimately paid to Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil in the final year of arbitration or their respective extensions; they’ll both be free agents after the 2024 season.

Through 2025, the Mets’ guaranteed commitment on AAV will be reduced to Lindor, Correa, Nimmo, Starling Marte, Edwin Díaz and Kodai Senga, totaling approximately $127 million.

They only have Lindor, Correa, Nimmo, Diaz and Senga signed after 2025 — and Diaz and Senga can opt out of their respective deals after the 2025 season.

What will the 2023 lineup look like?

In the end, the Mets have strong protection for Alonso — no matter the lineup.

Here’s a guess based on facing right-handed starters:

CF Brandon Nemo (L)

3B Carlos Correa (R)

SS Francisco Lindo (S)

1B Pete Alonso (R)

RF Starling Marte (R)

2B Jeff McNeill (left)

LF Mark Canha(R)

DH Daniel Vogelbach (left)

C Omar Narwaz (L)

The sequence can go a few different ways — for example, Marte could bat second while Correa moves to fifth — but it could be nine. Against a left-handed starting pitcher, the Mets could have Thomas Nido at receiver and use conversion hitter Eduardo Escobar at DH, among other interior options.

Further down the list of considerations, adding Correa would give the Mets good protection at shortstop behind Lindor. Louis Gillom, who missed last summer with a groin injury, is an excellent defender at any position in the infield and was once the Mets’ second-best option at shortstop.

What’s next?

The Mets will trade.

Receiver James Mikan, who is owed $24 million over the next two seasons, was an obvious trade candidate — even before the Mets signed Narvaz earlier this week. Escobar was the projected third baseman before Correa arrived, so he could move, too. The Mets could also potentially trade starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, but that would dent their depth. At one point, a rival executive said they were also quietly exploring a Marte trade, but trading him would be a major blow to their roster, and the Mets are clearly trying to win.

With a long-term lock on the left side of the infield, will the Mets be more motivated to trade prospects Brett Barty or Mark Ventos? They both play third base, but can also play left field and DH. The Mets could still use some outfield depth, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they look to further add to their bullpen. No upgrade should be considered unrealistic for Cohen’s Mets.

At this point, Cohen has provided no indication of the cost issue. Whatever trade the Mets make from here should aim to continue to increase their chances and expectations of winning a title.

(Carlos Correa above: Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today)

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