The deadline for players issued qualifying offers to decide on whether or not to accept has now passed, with Brandon Belt of the Giants being the only one out of the group of 14 to accept and return to his previous team. That means the 13 players who turned down the $18.4MM offer are now attached to draft pick forfeiture, including Carlos Correa. Of course, a player of Correa’s skill level won’t see his market greatly affected by a detail like that. In fact, MLBTR recently placed the star shortstop at the top of this year’s list of free agents and projected that he would land a contract of $320MM over ten years, despite the qualifying offer.
Another thing that apparently won’t stand in his way is any lingering resentment out of the Yankee organization in regard to the 2017 Astros sign-stealing scandal. It has been speculated by some people that the Yankees may not want to make a high profile acquisition of Correa, given he was a member of that now-infamous team, which defeated the Yankees in the ALCS before going on to beat the Dodgers in the World Series. But the Yankees decision makers have made comments that seem to suggest it won’t be an issue for them.
When asked if the scandal would play a role in how the team views Correa, Boone said “No,” per Dan Martin of the New York Post, but did acknowledge that the players would have to feel the same way. “Anytime we’re involved in a free agent that’s of large significance and will attract a lot of years and dollars, we’re all gonna feel really good about it.” The article also relays a statement general manager Brian Cashman made last week, saying, “Things like [fan or player sentiment are] not part of that process.”
Hal Steinbrenner evidently feels similar, as Jeff Passan of ESPN relays a quote from the team’s managing partner. “I think most people have moved on from that,” he said. “I mean, I think it’s only healthy to move on from things like that instead of stewing on it year after year. But, you know, people have the opinion that they want to have about that particular player. But, in general, we’re going to look at every single option. It’s the same thing we do every year.”
That’s surely good news for Correa, as he and his representatives will want as many teams in the bidding as possible, especially historically big spenders such as the Yankees. The club is certainly a fit for a shortstop, since moving Gleyber Torres to second base in September. However, they may opt not to make a long commitment to Correa, or any of the other highly-touted free agent shortstops, on account of prospects Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe. “No question that factors in because we do feel in Peraza and Volpe we do have two long-time impact big-league players,’’ said Boone. “We’re excited about those players and believe they are real. That factors into any decisions the organization and [Cashman] make.”
Volpe is generally regarded above Peraza by prospect evaluators, as he is ranked the 18th prospect in all of baseball by FanGraphs, 22nd by Baseball America and 15th by MLB Pipeline, whereas Pereza comes in 48th for FanGraphs and 58th for both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. However, Volpe has only climbed as far as High-A in the Yankees’ system, meaning he’s unlikely to be an option for the big league club in the short term. Peraza, on the other hand, played most of 2021 at Double-A and finished the season with eight games at Triple-A, making it at least feasible that the club decides to forego a big expenditure at the position, although it’s also possible that’s just posturing for negotiating purposes.
Elsewhere around the league, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times doesn’t see the Mariners as a fit for Correa, based on the contract length. He reports that it’s believed Correa is trying to get within range of Francisco Lindor’s $341MM ten-year extension or “at least an 8- to 9-year deal with an average of $30 million per season and an opt-out clause.” Divish opines that Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto may not want to sign a contract of quite that length, based on his personal experiences trying to work around contracts like that, citing the Albert Pujols contract from Dipoto’s time in Anaheim as well as the Robinson Cano contract that was already on the books when he came to Seattle.
Marcus Semien, however, could be a better fit for the Mariners. He’s almost exactly four years older than Correa – 31 and 27, respectively – meaning he won’t be able to demand a contract of quite the same length. MLBTR predicted he could garner a contract of $138MM over six years, an average annual value of $23MM. But Divish has a different framing on the situation, saying, “The thinking is that the Mariners might have to offer him a five-year, $140-$150 million contract to keep him from going to San Francisco or New York on a four-year deal.”
$150MM over five years would be $30MM per season and make Semien one of the highest-paid players in the game by average annual value, which would be an incredible feat considering that he had to settle for a one-year, $18MM contract with the Blue Jays when he was a free agent a year ago. Like Correa, he also turned down a qualifying offer this week and will now be tied to draft pick forfeiture.