Carlos Correa is one of the biggest free agents still left on Major League Baseball’s market once the lockout is lifted — and one of the largest fishes in the sea that is potential suitors, the New York Yankees, appears to have shown interest.
MLB insider Jon Heyman reported on Wednesday that before the owners locked out the players, thus freezing any sort of MLB transactions, the Yankees requested and received the medicals of Correa along with fellow free agents in starting pitchers Carlos Rodon and Yusei Kikuchi.
The Yankees are in dire need of a legitimate starting shortstop after Gleyber Torres showed that he was unable to hold down the position — especially from a defensive standpoint. Over 246 games played at the position, he posted a .950 fielding percentage with a defensive runs saved (DRS) mark of -25.
A slumping bat only cast his long-term fit with the franchise in further jeopardy as he slashed .256/.337/.366 (.703 OPS) with 12 home runs and 67 RBI over 169 games from 2020-2021. It’s a significant drop-off from his first two seasons as a pro in which he took the league by storm, posting an .849 OPS with season averages of 31 home runs and 84 RBI.
Correa would provide a significant and superstar-like upgrade on the left side of the Yankees’ infield. Since breaking into the league in 2015, the 27-year-old possesses an .837 OPS with 162-game averages of 29 home runs and 105 RBI. He’s also a much more competent fielder behind a career .981 fielding percentage at shortstop with a DRS of 67.
Such a resume, however, would call for a sizable contract that could trend toward $300 million in total. It remains to be seen if the Yankees would flash that kind of money when they already have the massive contracts of Giancarlo Stanton, who will be paid a total of $179 million through the 2026 season, and Gerrit Cole — now preparing for his third season of a nine-year, $324 million pact.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner has not expressed much of a willingness to fly past MLB’s competitive balance tax — whichever number that might be depending on lockout negotiations. At the moment Yankees have an estimated payroll of $214 million, per Fangraphs, and baseball’s CBT in 2022 could be anywhere from $230 million to $238 million.
That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for the Yankees to not only offer a huge deal to Correa, but also to potentially extend slugger and face of the franchise, Aaron Judge, who suggested that he would not negotiate a new contract after Opening Day. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2022 season.