Scott Boras used the Mets to his advantage Tuesday night and got the Giants to invest in star power by giving Carlos Correa a 13-year deal worth $350 million. Correa has full no-trade protection and the contract does not include any opt-outs, making it very similar to what Bryce Harper got in Philly in terms of structure. The biggest difference, other than $20 million, is that Harper was two years younger at the start of his than Correa will be in 2023.
I feel like there’s another really salient comparison between those two players and deals, I’m just having a hard time putting my finger on it. Oh yeah, that’s it! The Cubs were reportedly involved in the negotiations for both and were apparently not willing or able to continue when the figures reached a certain point. The duration of this latest deal has offered some Cubs fans a bit of consolation, but the bigger issue is that the team won’t commit to star players.
While I will grant that Correa may age like a stale doughnut in the back half of the baker’s dozen years he’s got in San Francisco, the Giants can add other pieces around him. His $26.9 million AAV allows for an additional $8-10 million or so of financial wiggle room, which is nice. Then you consider that there will be two more collective bargaining agreements to potentially raise the luxury tax threshold well beyond the point where such a contract will be prohibitive.
Again, though, I think we need to separate the specifics of the contract from the notion that the Cubs just aren’t playing with other teams at the top of the market. That has been the case since 2019 and it apparently remains the same in spite of contrary statements directly from ownership. Crane Kenney shared the message, but we know who approved it.
Jed Hoyer really has no choice at this point but to pay Dansby Swanson whatever he wants, even if that means stretching to $200 million over eight years. That would be less than $2 million below Correa’s AAV, though trimming five years off the back end sure feels safer. Of course, the Cubs would also need to add a lot more firepower because Swanson is someone who should really be batting in the bottom half of the order rather than the heart.
What’s really worrisome to me at this point is that the Cubs aren’t the only team in on Swanson and it’s entirely possible they’ll miss out on him as well. Next year’s free agent class isn’t very good at all, though it will feature at least one huge headliner. Barring a trade and extension this coming season, Shohei Ohtani will hit the market. Manny Machado and Rafael Devers could both opt out, making it a clear top three.
Do we believe the Cubs will use all the money falling off the books after the ’23 season to pursue one or two of those players? They have around $56 million in space below the CBT now and easily could have added Correa with room to spare, then they’d still have even more to play with next year. But seeing how things have gone recently, what’s to say other teams don’t come in and simply out-bid the Cubs and their “intelligent spending” offers?
Hoyer has signed several solid players over the last two offseasons, exactly the kind of supplemental additions a team needs to make around a star or three. Only trouble is, they don’t have a star and the guy who was closest to that category just signed with the Cardinals. I’m having a very difficult time reconciling the front office’s words with their actions over the last several weeks (or months, years, etc).
Rather than belabor this further by pointing out how the Cubs seem to be actively working against the idea that the offense needs to be improved, I’ll just end by saying I really don’t understand what in the blue hell they’re doing. I truly don’t. I guess the goal is to be stuck in no man’s land while waiting on prospects to mature into superstars, which…good luck.
Would signing Correa have been some sort of panacea for all that ails the Cubs and their grumbling fanbase? Of course not. But at least it would have been a sign that the team had received a diagnosis and was undergoing treatment to get better. Right now it just feels like someone puffing on a lung dart while pulling an oxygen tank.