The past week has seen an incredible free agent plot twist that’s unprecedented in baseball history. Reports emerged last week indicating that the Giants had agreed to terms with shortstop Carlos Correa on a 13-year, $350MM deal. That deal, like all free agent agreements, was pending a physical. However, it was reported yesterday that an issue flagged during Correa’s physical caused the Giants to delay a press conference that was set to introduce Correa. That was followed by a stunning middle-of-the-night report that Correa had a new agreement with the Mets for 12 years and $315MM.
The entire baseball world is still trying to piece together how such a strange sequence of events came to pass. Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, has provided his perspective today, giving comment to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
“We reached an agreement. We had a letter of agreement. We gave them a time frame to execute it,” Boras said. “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.”
It still isn’t publicly known what issue the Giants found during Correa’s physical, but Boras frames it as an old injury that precedes Correa’s time in the majors. “You’re talking about a player who has played eight major-league seasons,” Boras said. “There are things in his medical record that happened decades ago. These are all speculative dynamics. Every team has a right to go through things and evaluate things. The key thing is, we gave them (the Giants) medical reports at the time. They still wanted to sign the player and negotiate with the player.”
Rosenthal lays out that Correa suffered a season-ending leg injury in the minor leagues in 2014 but he has not been on the injured list for a lower leg injury since his promotion to the majors. He’s also had back issues in the past but his last IL stint for a back injury was in 2019.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi also provided a comment, though without getting into specifics. “While we are prohibited from disclosing confidential medical information, as Scott Boras stated publicly, there was a difference of opinion over the results of Carlos’ physical examination,” Zaidi said to reporters, including Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. “We wish Carlos the best.”
It’s worth reiterating that, with the Giants not providing any details, we only really have one side of the story. As Correa’s agent, Boras is surely motivated to wipe away the concern of the Giants as unreasonable or a non-issue. Correa’s new deal with the Mets is also pending a physical and won’t be official until that is complete. However, if the Mets end up having the same concerns as the Giants, it might be difficult for them to back out in a similar fashion. Andy Martino of SNY reports that the Mets could face a grievance if they back out of the deal since owner Steve Cohen has already discussed the deal on the record.
Also noted by Rosenthal, it’s not entirely unprecedented for medical personnel to come to different conclusions about the health of a player. This Boras-Mets situation was the other way around with Kumar Rocker, whom the Mets selected 10th overall in the 2021 draft. The Mets had agreed to give Rocker, who is represented by Boras, a $6MM bonus before medical concerns scuttled the deal. Rocker re-entered the draft a year later and was selected third overall by the Rangers.
It has also occasionally happened in the past that free agents agree to terms with teams but then issues pop up with the physical before the deal is official. In one recent example, reliever Grant Balfour agreed to terms with the Orioles on a two-year, $15MM deal prior to the 2014 season. The O’s backed out after conducting Balfour’s physical and he instead signed with the Rays for two years and $12MM. However, a similar situation for a free agent of Correa’s magnitude hasn’t been seen before.