Tomase: Why the Red Sox should entertain swooping in for Carlos Correa originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Let's just state this right off the top: The following is a fantasy that wouldn't even have been indulged a week ago.
And that brings us to Carlos Correa.
Widely considered the cream of this year's free agent class, Correa currently sits in limbo while wondering if his second failed physical will scuttle yet another $300 million deal. The first one, with the Giants, imploded over concerns that Correa's surgically repaired right ankle wouldn't hold up over the life of his 13-year, $350 million offer.
He immediately pivoted to the Mets, who signed him for 12 years and $315 million, pending that pesky physical. Megabucks owner Steve Cohen jumped the gun by declaring, "We needed one more thing and this is it," in an interview with the New York Post before the entire process screeched to a halt, once again undone by the medicals.
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We are now approaching three weeks since the deal was supposedly done, and still no resolution. The Mets camp has expressed frustration with the state of negotiations, while Correa's side suggests other teams have re-entered the bidding. Meanwhile, Correa posted a picture of his newborn son on Instagram wearing an "I love New York" shirt. It's all very confusing.
What it's not is resolved, which is where our Red Sox fantasy enters the equation.
It feels safe to say that Correa isn't signing anywhere for $300 million at this point. If he returns to the Mets, it's likely going to be at a reduced rate; otherwise, the deal would already be done.
If he goes back onto the market, it will be at a severely disadvantaged negotiating position, because one failed physical is just an opinion, but two is a trend.
Most clubs are pretty much spent this late in the offseason, and that includes the Red Sox, whose payroll now sits just below the $233 million luxury tax threshold after the Devers extension. Adding Correa would require ownership to exceed the tax by a lot, but here's why they shouldn't let that stop them.
Fully healthy, Correa is a $300 million player. Now it's conceivable he might be looking at half of that money. Imagine how differently we'd view the offseason if it ended with Correa signing for roughly what the Red Sox offered Xander Bogaerts (per The Boston Globe) -- six years and $160 million.
Even if Correa's leg only has four good years left in it, that's a great deal. The two-time All-Star, one-time Gold Glove winner, and former Rookie of the Year is a well-rounded slugger who's also a proven postseason masher, with 18 playoff home runs.
If you want to reverse a perception of not caring about the product while also giving the lineup a massive jolt, Correa is it. The fact that he might become available for so much less than he's otherwise worth is the kind of gamble a team with its eye on market inefficiencies should exploit. He'd also help Red Sox fans get over the sting of losing Bogaerts, a popular player who's nonetheless two years older than Correa and nowhere near the defender.
The issue is Correa's right ankle, which he broke while sliding into the third base bag as a 19-year-old prospect in 2014. He underwent surgery to repair a fractured fibula and has played with a metal plate in his leg ever since. This past September with the Twins, he hurt himself on another slide and told reporters that he had been hit on the metal plate, which vibrated and "just felt kind of numb."
It's important to note that while Correa has missed significant time with back and shoulder injuries over his eight-year career, appearing in at least 150 games just once, he has yet to be sidelined by any leg issues.
And it's possible he never will be. After all, when the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett in 2005, some in the organization feared his shoulder represented a ticking time bomb, but over six full seasons here, he made at least 27 starts five times.
The stars are aligning for an aggressive team to score Correa at a bargain rate. The more I think about it, the less it feels like a fantasy to suggest the Red Sox should make this bold strike.