Carlos Correa signing: Why his free agency has been saga of incomplete deals, unsure owners and old injuries

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Although more than two weeks have passed since star infielder Carlos Correa reached an agreement with the New York Mets on a 12-year deal worth $315 million, the two sides have yet to finalize the arrangement. The hold-up is suspected to stem from concerns the Mets have about Correa’s lower right leg.

The Mets and Correa’s agent Scott Boras continued to negotiate revised terms on Thursday, but that news was accompanied by a New York Post report that Boras had “renewed contact with at least another interested team or two.” At this stage, it’s unclear what’s likelier: Correa and the Mets finding a resolution, or Boras finding more favorable terms from another club.

If, like a well-adjusted human being, you spent the past three-plus weeks attending to familial matters as part of the holiday season, then you might be out of the loop on everything that’s happened with Correa. We here at CBS Sports are hardly well-adjusted, so we figured we’d provide a handy dandy explainer that answers six questions you might have about this situation.

Let’s get to it.

1. Didn’t Correa already sign with the Giants?

We might as well start here. Yes, Correa technically reached an agreement with the San Francisco Giants in the form of a 13-year contract worth $350 million. The Giants scheduled a press conference to introduce Correa, and he and his family even went house-hunting in the San Francisco area. Alas, the press conference was scrapped just hours before it was supposed to occur. Before a full day had passed, Correa had agreed to terms with the Mets on this contract.

2. What happened to the Giants deal?

This may sound familiar. The Giants became concerned with the long-term status of Correa’s lower right leg during a physical examination. From there, well, let’s just defer to Boras’ public explanation of what happened from there.

“We reached an agreement. We had a letter of agreement. We gave them a time frame to execute it,” Boras told The Athletic. “They advised us they still had questions. They still wanted to talk to other people, other doctors, go through it.

“I said, ‘Look, I’ve given you a reasonable time. We need to move forward on this. Give me a time frame. If you’re not going to execute, I need to go talk with other teams.”

Boras did indeed talk to other teams, resulting in the current situation.

3. Why are teams concerned about Correa’s leg?

Correa suffered a nasty injury to his right leg when he was a minor-league player in the Houston Astros system. He had to have surgery as a result, and part of that process included the installation of a plate near his ankle. Correa hasn’t required an injured list stint because of his leg in the time since, but physicals are often about predictive value rather than prescriptive value — that is to say, the doctors are looking forward, not backward.

It stands to reason that two things can be true: doctors could be justified in highlighting Correa’s leg as an area of concern, yet Correa could stay relatively healthy regardless of the plate. Of course, this is a case where the public and media don’t have enough information to weigh in one way or another. 

4. What might a revised Correa deal include?

In theory, the Mets and Correa could insert some offsetting language that would protect the club in case Correa’s leg does become an issue. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal explained how it would work. (Glove tap to NBC Sports Bay Area for the podcast transcription.)

“The way to do it in a situation like this is to put something in the contract called an ‘exclusion clause’ and that basically says if a player spends X number of days on the injured list with this specific injury, the specific injury to that part of his leg, then you can void future years or you can lower the guarantee, there are all kinds of ways to do it,” Rosenthal said. “Now obviously if you’re Correa and Boras you don’t want this kind of language because it lowers the value of the contract and creates this uncertainty. Clearly, it doesn’t have the same.”

It’s unclear if the two sides have discussed an exclusion clause, or if Boras and Correa are even open to the possibility of installing such a clause in the deal.

They could also add more generic team options to the deal that would allow the Mets to bail if Correa’s health does become an issue down the road.

5. Are there any other considerations at play for the Mets?

Indeed, the Mets’ situation with Correa is trickier than the Giants’ one was. That’s because owner Steve Cohen may have opened his team up to a grievance from the Major League Baseball Players Association if the Mets walk away from their arrangement by making public comments about Correa.

“We needed one more thing, and this is it,” Cohen told the New York Post after the initial agreement with Correa was announced. “This was important … This puts us over the top. This is a good team. I hope it’s a good team!”

There’s a reason executives never comment on players or deals until they’re official. You can understand why Cohen was excited, but his overzealous nature might end up costing him here if he can’t hammer home a deal with Boras.

6. Is Correa worth the fuss? 

Yes. He’s a 28-year-old two-time All-Star who has posted a 128 OPS+ over the last three seasons while playing good defense at shortstop. CBS Sports ranked him as the No. 3 free agent entering the winter, behind only Aaron Judge and Jacob deGrom. Correa is an elite player, in so many words. It would be unfortunate if the events of this winter end up obscuring that fact.

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