Could the Red Sox sign free agent shortstop Carlos Correa?
The top free agent in this year’s class is shortstop Carlos Correa, according to FanGraphs. The 27-year-old declined the Houston Astros’ $18.4 million qualifying offer. Although many expected this decision to happen, it may signal Correa’s plan to sign with another team somewhere soon. According to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, the Red Sox might make a “quiet play” for either Correa or free agent shortstop Marcus Semien.
"“If they land Correa, I think they’ll ask Xander Bogaerts to move to second base. If they sign Semien, he would play second base,” wrote Bowden."
It’s no secret why Correa is one of the top players available in this year’s stacked free agent pool. He finished his seventh year in the majors with an impressive .279/.366/.485 slash line along with 26 home runs (a career high) and 92 RBIs.
He earned his second All-Star nod, as well as a Gold Glove and the American League Platinum Glove Award, which is awarded to the best defensive player in each league.
Advanced defensive metrics support his recent awards, finishing 2021 with a +12 in Outs Above Average (OAA) and preventing 9 runs. In short, OAA measures how many outs a player has saved, taking into account factors such as how far the fielder ran to get the ball and how much time he has to record a successful out. Since 2018, Correa has had the third highest OAA out of all shortstops, at +49.
Obviously, signing Correa would be ideal if the Red Sox believe Bogaerts will opt out of his six year, $120 million contract after 2022. Pair that with the long lasting connection Correa has with Manager Alex Cora, and Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom may have a compelling reason to pursue the star shortstop. Cora has two connections to Correa, one as the Astros bench coach in 2017 and another as the General Manager for the Puerto Rican team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
If the team were to seriously pursue Correa, it wouldn’t be cheap. FanGraphs predicts that Correa will earn a nine-year, $297 million deal. With intriguing prospects such as shortstop Marcelo Mayer and second baseman Nick Yorke coming up through the minor leagues, it may dissuade the front office from offering Correa a “blockbuster type” deal that other organizations will surely propose.
The New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Los Angeles Dodgers are among the front-runners actively seeking Correa.
Despite the Bowden report, the Red Sox making a serious push to sign Correa still seems a bit of stretch. With the departure of Eduardo Rodriguez, the team may target a new starting ace such as Marcus Stroman or Robbie Ray. In addition, they could be eyeing new bullpen arms like Collin McHugh or Aaron Loup. Or, the Red Sox may try to sign Semien, a star shortstop not seeking as high of a contract as Correa. Yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t hope to see the Red Sox bring in another superstar player to help the team remain championship contenders for many more years to come.