Phillies free agency: the case of Carlos Correa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Phillies are no strangers to making headlines in free agency. Two wins away from winning the World Series, it probably won’t be a quiet winter in Philadelphia.

The middle field is the only area of ​​need without pitching, and it happens to be a rich market for shortstops. Bryson Stott has proven capable of being an everyday player but could move to second base.

This week, CBS Philadelphia breaks down the shortstop market and makes the case for the big names. We watched Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson and Trea Turner.

The case of Carlos Correa

Age: 28
Bats/Throws: R/R
Team 2022: Minnesota twins

Correa unsubscribed a three-year, $105 million deal he signed with the Minnesota Twins. He’s giving free agency another shot after failing to secure the lucrative deal he was seeking last year. This winter may treat him better, although it’s another market where shortstops are important.

Last offseason, Correa entered free agency alongside Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Marcus Seimen and Trevor Story. Seager, Baez and Seimen all entered into long-term agreements before the owner-imposed lockdown. Correa and Story waited, and only Story got the long-term contract.

The 28-year-old surprised the baseball world when he signed with Minnesotabut it allowed him to bet on himself and try again this winter or in his 30-year season.

Correa chose to try again this winter, and here we are.

The player

Drafted with the first overall pick in 2012 in a first round that produced 18 All-Stars, Correa made a name for himself with the Houston Astros. He made his MLB on June 8, 2015 and won American League Rookie of the Year by hitting 22 homers and posting a 135 OPS+ in 99 games.

Correa quickly established himself as one of the best shortstops in the game. His best season came in 2017, the same year Houston won the World Series since marred by a sign theft scandal.

In 2017, his third season, Correa made his first All-Star team, was voted AL Player of the Month for May and posted a 155 OPS+ in 109 games. He cut .315/.391/.550 with 24 home runs and 177 hits. He then hit .288 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in the postseason.

Injuries made a mockery of his 2018 season, but Correa has posted at least 124+ OPS in all but two seasons of his career – 2018 and the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season.

In his final season with Houston, Correa hit 26 home runs, batted .279/.366/.485 and scored 104 runs. He had a 131 OPS+. He also won his first Gold Glove and the AL Platinum Glove, which is awarded to the best defender in either league.

Correa’s 2022 season may have gone unnoticed because he was playing for a smaller market in Minnesota, but he posted his second best OPS+ with 140, hitting .291/.366/.467 with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs.

The fit

As noted in Swanson’s breakdown, the Phillies’ shortstop defense hasn’t been up to snuff since the days of Jimmy Rollins. Shortstops have cost the Phils 55 carries since 2015, according to FanGraphs, and 12 carries last season. Correa and Swanson are the best defenders out there.

Based on FanGraphs’ model, Correa saved three runs last season and was three under at shortstop in his first season at Minnesota. His three DRS were the least saved since his rookie season.

The overall sample size, however, paints Correa as more of a defender with a premium bat to boot.

There’s no question Correa is what the Phillies need at shortstop. He would give the Phils a big bat at the shortstop who plays great defense, but he would come with injury risk and the 2017 cheating scandal loomed large over him.

In the end, it will depend on the contract. Correa is unlikely to settle for another short-term deal with an opt-out this time around. He’s going to want to score big, but the market will tell the final story.

Correa changed agents before signing in Minnesota in March for a Phillies familiar: Scott Boras.

Super Agent Boras represents several Phillies greats, including Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and Rhys Hoskins. The Phils signed Harper and Castellanos each in free agency. They have a history with Boras.

Minnesota would be “definitely motivated” to re-sign Correa, but can the Twins compete with the big markets? Correa will be looking for a lot of money over a long period.

The summary offers a compelling case. If the price is right, the adjustment might be too much for the Phillies.

FanGraphs recently predicted that a Correa contract would be in the range of seven years, $250.8 million.

Christy J. Olson