MLB

Carlos Correa free agency: Ranking all 30 teams as possible landing spots with fringe contenders leading list

Once we get past this week, Thanksgiving week, the MLB hot stove should actually, finally heat up. The Winter Meetings are set for early December and there’s generally a pretty good amount of action before getting closer to Christmas. One of the biggest free agents on the market is Carlos Correa

Correa, 28, hit free agency last offseason but didn’t find a long-term deal to his liking. He took a three-year deal with the Twins that had an opt-out clause after one year and most people knew from the get-go that it was basically a one-year deal. He’s now testing the waters again. 

Where might he end up? Let’s take a look at the most likely landing spots and, yes, we’ve eliminated more than half the league before even getting started. He’s likely already done the same, so why shouldn’t we? 

Not happening

30. Pirates
29. Reds
28. Brewers
27. Marlins
26. Athletics
25. Astros
24. Royals
23. Guardians
22. Rays

The ship has sailed with the Astros. The rest can’t or won’t afford the deal Correa will get. 

Unlikely, but not impossible

21. Rockies
20. Mets
19. Nationals
18. Rangers
17. Blue Jays
16. Tigers
15. White Sox

The financial means are there and some depth chart shuffling could be done, but it’s just not in their plans or Correa wouldn’t sign there. 

The Wild Cards

14. Angels – I don’t think they’re going to add another mega-contract to the books, especially amid rumors they might trade Shohei Ohtani (they’ve denied the rumors, but there’s a reason those exist). Plus, owner Arte Moreno is set to sell the team. If, somehow, a sale comes together quickly and the new owner has time to make a splash, maybe it’s possible. You never know. 

13. Diamondbacks – They look ready to turn the corner and contend again. They also have a pretty low payroll and could spend a ton of money this offseason. The lineup is also very lefty-heavy right now and the D-Backs are said to be focusing on right-handed power this offseason. Correa checks that box. Are they willing to spend what it would take to convince Correa to join a team that surely can’t compete with the Dodgers for the division title right now? That’s where there’s a disconnect, for me. 

12. Padres – It sure feels like the Padres are at or at least near their limit with payroll and filling out the rotation needs to be a higher priority than a luxury like Correa. Then again, he’s Carlos Freaking Correa. Could they surprise and pull off another superstar heist? A lineup with Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Carlos Correa and Fernando Tatis, Jr. would be pretty damn fun. I’m not seeing it, though. 

11. Mariners – Club president Jerry Dipoto has continued to insist their shortstop is J.P. Crawford and Correa isn’t signing somewhere to change positions. This year, though, Dipoto has seemed less hardcore on saying Crawford will definitely remain the starting shortstop and just said it’s “likely” but also left open the possibility to add a superstar. Would Correa want to sign with a place that has chanted “cheater” at him the last several years? 

Priorities lie elsewhere, but don’t count them out 

10. Braves – It seems like the Braves are going to re-sign Dansby Swanson or hand the keys at shortstop to young Vaughn Grissom. They do not, however, have to proceed in this fashion. Especially with how much money they’ve saved on elite talent in locking up players like Ronald Acuña, Jr., Ozzie Albies and Michael Harris early and cheaply, there’s room for an outside addition like Correa. Still, the hunch here is this doesn’t happen. 

9. Cardinals – Pitching and catching are their priorities, though they could shift Tommy Edman back to second base and use some middle infield depth to trade for pitching. Correa would be a great fit and they do have the financial capability to make such a splash. Not that they often go this high in free agency, they don’t. It looks like things would have to break just right, too, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says “the Cardinals are hanging out on the edges to see where the market goes next.” 

8. Red Sox – Retaining Xander Bogaerts is their priority, from the sounds of it. If he walks, the Red Sox could pivot to Correa, though Trea Turner feels more likely. Of course, it is probably just as likely they’ll move Trevor Story back to shortstop and shore the roster up in other, more cost-efficient (read: cheap) ways. Still, it would be folly to fully ignore them here. 

7. Yankees – If the Yankees miss out on retaining Aaron Judge, I’d probably make them the favorites here. Instead, I have them ranked seventh. That’s how confident I am that the Yankees re-sign Judge. In doing so, they’ll then remove themselves from consideration for any other mega-deal in free agency, at least on the position player side. To be clear, they could absolutely afford to re-sign Judge and sign Correa. This current ownership just doesn’t seem inclined to spend that much money on payroll. If, somehow, the Yankees do lose out on Judge, they’ll be frontrunners for Correa. 

My bet is Judge re-signs with the Yankees and Correa ends up on one of the following six teams. 

6. Dodgers – They’ll attempt to re-sign Trea Turner before looking at Correa and the Dodgers also need to address starting pitching (perhaps with Justin Verlander or Jacob deGrom?). Plus, there’s word that the Dodgers are at least mildly concerned at fan backlash to signing a central figure from the 2017 Astros. If everything breaks in a direction where Correa makes the most sense for the Dodgers, though, this shouldn’t — and won’t — matter. Fans can get over a lot if it means a player helps their team win. 

5. Phillies – Fresh off a World Series trip with money to spend and a possible hole at shortstop (Jean Segura is a free agent and Bryson Stott can play second base), the Phillies are a great fit for a free agent shortstop. If we were ranking teams based upon just getting one of the big ones, they’d be ranked higher (probably number one). With Correa, though, the Phillies move a bit down the list simply because they’ve been connected in rumors a lot more often to Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts. Correa isn’t a consolation prize, so we’ll leave the Phils here at number five. 

4. Giants – Bringing Aaron Judge back (somewhat close to) home to the Bay Area appears to be the top priority. They would also have to deal with moving Brandon Crawford off of shortstop, but that would prove to be a minor obstacle if they have the opportunity to sign a player of Correa’s caliber. There’s money to spend and the Giants seem motivated to have a big offseason, so they are major players here. Assuming I’m right that the Yankees retain Judge, will Correa still be on the board for the Giants? Timing could certainly be an issue. 

The Big Three? 

3. Orioles – After winning 31 more games in 2022 than the previous year, pushing them up to their first winning record since 2016, the Orioles are ready to move up into perennial contender status. They could spend a veritable fortune in free agency, as right now Baseball-Reference projects their 2023 payroll at a paltry $33.8 million. With catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Gunnar Henderson, we’ve already seen the start of the wave of prospects hitting the bigs. Correa would give them a bonafide superstar with championship experience to lead the charge. 

There are questions, of course. Will they make top-shelf starting pitching more of a priority than adding Correa? How will first-time general manager Mike Elias operate in this phase of the turn-around? We’ve only seen him rebuild to this point and it’s possible he’s risk averse on huge free agent deals. Then again, maybe he’s similar to Theo Epstein and will go nuts when he feels the situation warrants. We just don’t know yet. 

And, obviously, Correa needs to want to be there, too. Maybe he would rather go elsewhere. It’s tough to get a read here because the Orioles were in an extreme rebuild and rather irrelevant just a year ago. 

2. Twins – In this case, we know Correa is OK with signing in Minnesota because he just did it last offseason. He had a great season there in 2022 and the Twins are said to badly want him back. They are reportedly willing to get creative and do whatever it takes to retain his services and while it’s a small market, they have rich owners. Yes, the Twins collapsed down the stretch last season, but Correa wasn’t at fault. He hit .361/.423/.585 in his last 37 games. 

Early in the season, Correa was talking like he’d be willing to spend the rest of his career with the Twins. Now is their chance, but they’ll need to pony up because the competition from some deep-pocketed organizations should be fierce. 

1. Cubs – The Cubs are ready to jump back into contention after a few years of restocking the farm system and especially after a successful second half (they went 39-31 after the All-Star break). Shortstop Nico Hoerner led the team in WAR (4.5) last year, but he can play second base and isn’t the type of super-duper star that should make a team like the Cubs avoid diving in to talks with a Correa-level talent. 

Word has been through the offseason, so far, that the Cubs are going after one of the big-name shortstops we’ve mentioned here (Correa, Turner, Bogaerts, Swanson), Correa is the best of the bunch and it’s possible some of the larger market players are occupied elsewhere (see above). 

The one mark against this is the Cubs under Jed Hoyer haven’t made it a secret that they’d like to avoid overly long deals. That is, they’d much rather do something like six or maybe seven years instead of 10. If Correa can land a 10-year deal like Corey Seager did last offseason, it won’t likely be with the Cubs. In looking at this list, though, I’m not really coming up with a team that will give Correa 10 years, especially after he couldn’t get such an offer when he was a year younger and coming off a better season. 

At this point, no team is “likely” to sign Correa. There’s been the most smoke around the Cubs, though, so they take the top spot. 



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