How should Mets add missing offense Carlos Correa was supposed to provide?

Manny Machado
Manny Machado / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

The Carlos Correa saga is over. It began when the Mets swooped in on Dec. 21 after Correa's 13-year, $350 million deal with the San Francisco Giants fell apart during his physical, hit a snag on Dec. 24 due to the Mets flagging an issue during their physical of Correa, and finally ended on Tuesday afternoon -- with Correa winding up with the Minnesota Twins instead of in Queens.

Any Mets fan who is upset over the outcome has every right to be. And it cannot be denied that the Mets' offense, which really could have used a dynamic player like Correa, is again in need of the punch Correa was supposed to provide.

But before we talk about what's next for the Mets' offense when it comes to the 2023 season and beyond, let's try to understand why Correa is a Twin (pending a physical, of course) and not a Met.

With the Mets and Steve Cohen walking away from the Correa deal, which was initially 12 years and $315 million -- after how excited Cohen was and how enormous the move would have been -- and for Correa to get only six years and $200 million guaranteed from the Twins, you can draw your own conclusions as to why the Mets walked.

And you can draw your own conclusions as to why teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox seemingly didn't rush to jump in and outbid the Twins, who clearly don't have the same concerns with Correa's surgically repaired ankle that the Giants and Mets had.

Hopefully for Correa's sake and the Twins' sake, he stays healthy.

But you can't fault the Mets and other teams for balking.

Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

Still, the Mets letting Correa go after Cohen went on the record after initially coming to terms with him -- saying the Mets "needed one more hitter" and that Correa "put them over the top" -- leaves New York in a precarious spot.

With Correa gone, the Mets still need that hitter. But where will they find him?

It has been an absolutely tremendous offseason for New York, and they've successfully rebuilt a team that won 101 games last season and should be poised to contend for a World Series title -- even absent Correa.

However, without Correa, the Mets have done nothing to address an offense that was a well-oiled machine at times in 2022 but was in dire need of more punch -- something that was exposed during their division-deciding late-season series against the Braves in Atlanta and their three-game loss to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Series.

In the immediate, the Mets could possibly turn to a free agent like Trey Mancini or Adam Duvall.

Mancini is coming off a down 2022, but is a career .265/.330/.457 hitter who has averaged 27 home runs per 162 games and could possibly play most days in left field, with Mark Canha perhaps becoming a bench bat or trade piece.

With Correa gone, the Mets should also be thinking about being aggressive with Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez -- their two best position player prospects.

That could mean beginning the year with Baty (whose future home if Correa wound up with the Mets would've been left field) as the primary third baseman against right-handed pitchers and Eduardo Escobar as the guy who gets most of the at-bats at third against lefties.

Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez
Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

Then there's the case of Alvarez, the best prospect in baseball who still needs to refine his catching skills. If the Mets don't think Alvarez will be ready to catch on Opening Day, they can't force it. But as soon as they deem him ready, he should be up and catching most days.

When it comes to what the Mets do in 2023, they can also explore a trade for disgruntled Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds, though one report had the Pirates (hilariously) seeking a Juan Soto-type of package in exchange.

So while it might be a bit of a challenge for the Mets to add serious impact talent to the offense in 2023, that could change if Baty and/or Alvarez emerges.

But 2024 is when the Mets should be well-positioned to pounce on a difference-maker. And there are two specific players who could be available.

The first is Manny Machado, who is expected to opt out of the final five years and $150 million of his deal with the Padres after this season -- ahead of his age-31 campaign.

Machado, who finished second in National league MVP voting this past season after slashing .298/.366/.531 with 32 homers, 102 RBI, and an OPS+ of 159, is a six-time All-Star and incredible hitter who also happens to play all-World defense at third base.

If the Mets sign Machado, he can seamlessly slide in next to Francisco Lindor on the left side of the infield, with Baty possibly moving to left field.

While Machado is two years older than Correa, he has been one of the most durable players in baseball during his 11-year career.

Machado played 150 games in 2022, 153 in 2021, all 60 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, 156 in 2019, and all 162 in 2018.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

It's pretty clear that Machado would be a tremendous fit for the Mets. But two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, a once-in-a-century phenomenon who is set to hit free agency after this season, would be an even better fit.

If the Los Angeles Angels decide to make Ohtani available during the season out of fear of losing him for nothing but a draft pick, the Mets should pounce (if they're confident about extending him).

And they really should be able to trade for Ohtani without giving up Alvarez.

But the easier play would simply be signing Ohtani after the 2023 season -- assuming he reaches free agency. And since there was a chance the Mets were going to sign Ohtani even if they added Correa, it's fair to believe that their chances of landing Ohtani just went up.

Signing Ohtani, who should command $500 million and could be pursued by the Los Angeles Dodgers and other big market teams, will not be easy.

Either way, with the Mets walking away from Correa, tons of money coming off the books starting after the 2024 season, and an owner who should be even hungrier now than he was a few weeks ago, the next 12 months should be extremely interesting.

Whether it's adding Ohtani or Machado or another superstar who isn't yet available, expect the Mets to do something huge in the not too distant future.