High marks for a 13-year contract? We evaluate Carlos Correa’s $350 million deal with the Giants

Under the front office leadership of Farhan Zaidi, the San Francisco Giants have streamlined their payroll outlook in recent seasons while overhauling their organizational processes, revamping everything from how they develop pitchers to providing manager Gabe Kapler with a horde of coaches. better described as teaching staff than as coaching staff.

The four-year transition from the Giants’ old ways to Zaidi’s vision has been gradual and mixed — on the field, with two soft runs in a wild card, a franchise-record explosion of 107 wins in 2021 and a throwback to the .500 in 2022. Still, the history of the Zaidi/Kapler era is largely in half a res, with the future of its history yet to be written. What we do know is that the future will include Carlos Correa for a long time.

Thirteen years. That’s quite a compromise, whether we’re talking about baseball contracts, prison sentences, or marriages. It’s a long, long time. If your child is in kindergarten right now, that child will be a senior in high school when Correa’s contract expires. Also, near the end of the pact, Correa will likely arrive at what will then be called Alcatraz Park via autonomous hovercraft, themiami marlins they will play in a stadium built on stilts and half the population will subsist on a people-free version of Soylent Green.

Sorry if I’m getting a little dreamy about all of this, but the recent trend of awarding contracts with lengths that would make Methuselah blush has made free agent analysis on its ear. You can’t help but wonder what it all means. I’m old enough to remember back in, say, 2018, when a big free agency debate was whether a standout player would get a fifth year on the market.

While Correa’s 13-year commitment is eye-catching, the Giants’ offer is entirely consistent in the context of free agency this winter, stovetop baseball’s first regular season after owners and players reached an agreement. for a new labor agreement last spring. The consistency of the deal is there, whether you look at it from a player/agent or team point of view.

First, let me say that while operating without any inside knowledge of Correa’s free agency, I was convinced he would sign with the Giants when several respected MLB reporters released the rumor Monday that the Mets had entered the race. to get their services. It’s the kind of last-minute, pointless development (at least until it turns out to be true) that strongly suggests that an agent (in this case, a guy named Scott Boras) is very close to landing his player’s preferred number and just you need to bring in another competitor to close the deal.

All things being equal, I thought the Twins had a good chance of keeping Correa if they could get into the same financial neighborhood that the market had to offer the All-Star shortstop. Given the terms of the lease, it appears this is not a neighborhood Minnesota would want to buy into. Which is too bad, because last week at the winter meetings in San Diego, the press session with Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was over 80% praising Correa, with Baldelli talking about how Correa had Maintained close contact with everyone in the organization, from the hitting coaches to the young players on the roster.

That is the kind of commitment that Correa brings to a team. To say that he is more cerebral when it comes to analysis than the typical gamer is an understatement. It will freely drop metrics in conversations that other players don’t even know exist. He reportedly loves to offer insight on everything from player development to roster building. Heck, maybe the Twins could have kept Correa if they’d just offered him the shortstop/assistant bench coach/assistant general manager title.

That kind of player involvement isn’t necessarily good for every organization, but given the collaborative culture Zaidi has created in San Francisco, Correa will be a great fit. He’ll be the face of a franchise that needed one to lead it into a future where he balances Zaidi-driven efficiency with the kind of financial muscle his market and ballpark allow, helping them keep pace with the Dodgers and Padres. divisional enemies going nowhere. (And don’t sleep on the Diamondbacks.)

As a player, Correa was my favorite free agent on the market, one who balances tremendous raw ability with a great track record, relentless work ethic, oodles of leadership qualities, an age (28) that suggests he’s going to stay in the elite in the coming years and, not for nothing, a natural charisma that will make it easy to market. Correa has a games played ceiling of around 140 to 150, if you’re lucky, but that’s enough to keep him in the 5 WAR range, more than enough to justify this kind of spending. And really, as consistent as Correa has been, the only thing missing from his record is a true season of racing. When that happens, it will now be the Giants who will benefit, and a Correa-level career season will be an MVP-worthy campaign.

There’s nothing I don’t like about this deal, though I think it’s worth noting that in terms of annual value, Correa will take a big cut, from the $35.1 million he earned during his one season with the Twins to $26.9 million in average value your new deal offers. In the long run, Correa will do well, to say the least.

And it’s a long haul. Under the new CBA, teams are handing out longer-than-projected deals from left to right, contracts with steep price tags in terms of total value but still somewhat cap-friendly in terms of annual value related to the luxury tax. The use of “cap” here is intentional, because this type of market behavior by MLB teams reminds me a lot of how NBA clubs used to structure free agent deals to work under the economic cap system. soft rule under which that league operates.

The first name I thought of when I saw the Correa news was one from another sport: Raef LaFrentz. Do you remember? The lanky Kansas center featured a coveted offensive strength for his position: the ability to hit 3-pointers, which he combined with the ability to protect the rim on defense via elite blocking ratings. It’s a role player’s skill set, but it was enough for LaFrentz to land a seven-year contract worth $70 million in the NBA once his rookie contract expired.

Then LaFrentz started getting hurt, and the richer he got, the less value on the court he provided to his teams. His contract eventually became one that was primarily a business asset, one used to match salaries in a deal with little expectation from the acquiring team that LaFrentz would contribute on the court at the level that his salary suggested was possible. During the final year of his contract, the 2008-09 season, LaFrentz was the second-highest-paid player on the Portland Trail Blazers and didn’t log a single minute of playing time.

This is the future of some of these deals in the MLB. The teams are extending their duration to reduce annual values ​​and better navigate the current tax system. Correa, as talented as he is, probably won’t be producing at the All-Star level, if he’s still playing, when his contract runs through the 2033 season and beyond. He can’t be traded without his permission, but other than that, it’s an old-style NBA deal, one you see in a cap-type system.

Is that bad? Ask me in 13 years. If baseball’s revenue numbers continue to grow, having tens of millions of dead money contracts on their books might not be much of a problem for teams, especially those in the biggest markets. Correa’s $26.9 million annual salary may end up being half the highest salaries in the entire sport in just a few years. If nothing else, these long and fast-paced contracts are a tremendous expression of optimism about where baseball is headed in the future.

And that future in San Francisco is promising. Correa is the type of fundamental player that championship teams are built on. The Giants have spent four years building a base. While they still have work to do on their roster in a free-agent market shrinking in elite options, they’ve crossed off the No. 1 task of their offseason — and offseasons to come.

Grade: A

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High marks for a 13-year contract? We evaluate Carlos Correa’s $350 million deal with the Giants