Signing Carlos Correa is a bad idea for the Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have defensive question marks on the left side of the infield between Rafael Devers’ suspect glove and Xander Bogaerts’ limited range. And with free agent All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa’s obvious connection to manager Alex Cora, rumors have swirled about Boston’s interest in Correa’s services. Hopefully it remains just that – rumors – because signing Correa would haunt the franchise almost immediately.
Correa is regarded as one of the best defensive players in baseball and is coming off the best offensive season of his career – a season during which he hit 26 home runs, drove in 92 runs, and slashed .279/.366/.485, none of which ranked higher than 23rd in the majors. Good numbers? Sure. Career best numbers for a $300+ million player? Maybe not.
Correa also won the Platinum Glove last season after leading the majors with 20 defensive runs saved (DRS), per FanGraphs. DRS is a metric used to factor a player’s range into rating their defensive ability. But while Correa’s DRS paced the league, he also finished 11th in errors amongst shortstops with 11, eighth in fielding percentage at .981, and 11th in total plays made with 194, even though he was one of four shortstops to play over 1,300 innings.
Correa has a career batting average of .277. When excluding the shortened 2020 season, he has yearly averages of 21 home runs, 77 RBI and 69 runs scored over 116 games played. Decent numbers, but probably not worth the 10-year, $320 million contract that MLB Trade Rumors projected he would sign before the off-season began.
The 116-game average is one of Correa’s biggest red flags. Outside of the 2020 season during which he played 58 of 60 games, 2021 marked just the second time in Correa’s career – and the first since 2016 – that he was healthy for more than 68% of his team’s games. When isolating just those two seasons, Correa’s offensive numbers don’t increase to the extent one might expect. Over 2016 and 2021, Correa batted .277 while averaging 23 home runs, 94 RBI and 90 runs scored in 151 games. Good production, but far from the superstar status his future contract will likely pay him as.
And then there’s the 2019 season, during which Correa was on pace to set career highs in home runs (42), RBI (118), slugging percentage (.568), and total bases (318) before missing extended time during the second half with a back injury. Correa ultimately played in just 75 regular season games.
This was also the season during which Jose Altuve made sure his teammates knew not to rip off his jersey after hitting a walk-off home run to win the ALCS, and during which Correa’s batting average was 81 points higher at home than on the road. Take that as you wish, but there are legitimate concerns about Correa’s ability to sustain his 2019 production over the course of an entire season.
Correa is a very good baseball player, but the length and value of the contract he will likely sign are something the Red Sox should steer clear of. Not only would it lock them into overpaying Correa for the next decade, but it blocks the path to Boston for 2021 first round draft pick and No. 2 organizational prospect Marcelo Mayer, whose big-league ETA could come as early as 2024, per SoxProspects.com.
Additionally, the money needed to sign Correa could instead be used to keep the two homegrown All-Stars – Devers and Bogaerts – in Boston for the foreseeable future. After having his hand forced on moving a generational homegrown talent in Mookie Betts, not signing Devers to an extension would be a failure for Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. And with Bogaerts expressing a willingness to move positions in the future, there is an equally strong desire within the organization to keep him in Boston long term.
"“You know where we stand on both guys,” Bloom said while speaking with the media in November about Devers and Bogaerts. “They are critical, critical parts of our organization. Huge parts of past success here and hopefully parts of future success for a long time.”"
Committing $32+ million per year over 10 years to an overvalued, injury-prone player at a position with a maximum two-year gap while simultaneously inhibiting your ability to retain homegrown superstars for the second time in three years is irresponsible.
Luckily for the Red Sox, Bloom has shown he is everything but irresponsible when it comes to spending money.