The Giants began this winter with the intention of finding a new face of their franchise. They thought it would be a mighty slugger who loved them growing up. Instead, it will be a superstar shortstop signing up for his third team in three years.
After missing out on Aaron Judge at the winter meetings, they got their guy late Tuesday night.
Carlos Correa’s face will be plastered outside Oracle Park for the next decade and beyond.
Correa agreed to a massive 13-year, $350 million contract, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal, easily the largest in Giants history, is four years longer and only $10 million in total value shy of what Judge received, though Correa is two years younger. It will pay Correa an average of $26.9 million per year through his age-40 season.
While Correa, 28, can’t match the star power of the reigning AL MVP who captivated the sports world with his home run chase, he brings as much — if not more — value on the field. He comes with a Rookie of the Year award, two All-Star appearances, a Platinum Glove, six seasons with an OPS over .800 and five with at least 4.0 bWAR on his résumé, and is regarded as one of the smartest, most analytically driven players in the game.
He won a World Series in 2017 with Houston, where he spent the first seven years of his career, but it was tarnished by the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. After taking a one-year deal in Minnesota last year, however, Correa was regarded as a leader in the Twins’ clubhouse — and will be expected to serve the same role in San Francisco.
Adding Correa to the mix should also only fan the flames of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. The Astros’ opponent in their asterisk-marked World Series? The Dodgers reportedly shied away from pursuing Correa over the incident.
More importantly, Correa gives the Giants their biggest boost since losing Buster Posey after the magical 2021 season, when San Francisco fought off Los Angeles for the NL West crown and made the Dodgers the winningest second-place finisher in baseball history before falling to them in the postseason. In 2022, however, it was a different story, as the Giants lost more games to the Dodgers than in any season since moving to San Francisco and missed the playoffs.
Last year also brought the lowest attendance in a non-pandemic year since the Giants’ waterfront ballpark opened in 2000, adding to the concern of a lack of starpower in their platoon-heavy lineup. But Correa should spark season-ticket sales, and the addition of Mitch Haniger showed a commitment to finding everyday players.
After falling short in their pursuit of Judge, fans and figures around the game alike began to question the Giants’ ability to attract elite-level talent on the open market. They had previously been rejected by Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani in a long line of others. The addition of Correa can put that to rest.
The only free-agent deal in baseball history as long as Correa’s was the 13-year, $330 million deal Harper signed with Philadelphia, after turning down another reported 13-year offer from the Giants. Correa’s contract also more than doubles the record for the largest in franchise history, previously held by Buster Posey’s $159 million extension. Only Judge ($360M), Mike Trout ($426.5M) and Mookie Betts ($365M) have ever been guaranteed more.
Correa, a Platinum and Gold Glove-winning shortstop, also raises the question for one player who was handed the torch after Posey retired, Brandon Crawford, who hasn’t done anything but play the position for the Giants since 2011, when Correa was an up-and-coming high school prospect in Puerto Rico. Crawford, 35, has one more year left on his contract and posted a .652 OPS last year, more than 200 points lower than his career-best mark in 2021.
Manager Gabe Kapler said at the winter meetings that he had not discussed moving Crawford off shortstop, but the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the Giants planned to use him at third base if they signed Correa.
What’s clear is that the Giants intend to use their massive capital from exploding media rights deals, savvy real estate investments and hardy ticket sales to compete at the top of the NL West.
The Padres show no signs of slowing down, adding Xander Bogaerts on a nearly equally massive deal this offseason; the D-backs are on the rise, with one of the youngest, most talented outfields in the game; and while the Dodgers have stayed quiet this offseason, they won 111 games last year, and are likely only resetting their luxury tax penalties in preparation for a pursuit of Ohtani next winter.
The Giants have guaranteed $463 million in contracts this winter, easily eclipsing their previous biggest-spending offseason, when they spent more than $250 million on Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Denard Span.
They locked up Joc Pederson, who accepted a $19.65 million qualifying offer. They signed Haniger for $43.5 million over three years, and intend to add another outfielder, as well as a high-leverage reliever. And this week, they committed $50 million to two pitchers — Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling — in an attempt to fill the Carlos Rodón-sized hole in their rotation. With the addition of Correa, an upgraded roster is beginning to take shape.