Correa's 13-year, $350 million contract with the San Francisco Giants reportedly hit a snag Tuesday when a medical concern arose during his physical. The Giants canceled Correa's scheduled introductory press conference Tuesday afternoon and apparently that is when the Mets swooped in. .
"We needed one more thing, and this is it," Mets owner Steve Cohen told the New York Post following the Correa deal. "This was important … This puts us over the top. This is a good team. I hope it's a good team!"
Correa may indeed be the "one more thing" that "puts us over the top," as Cohen put it. That doesn't mean the Mets are done for the offseason. There's still two months until spring training and we can't rule them out on anything. Let's break down what the Correa signing means for the Mets moving forward.
1. The lineup has been upgraded
Obvious statement is obvious, but prior to the Correa signing, the Mets had not done much to improve a lineup that was fifth in runs scored in 2022 yet only 16th in home runs. Only three of the 12 postseason teams hit fewer home runs. Cohen did re-sign Brandon Nimmo, though he's spent most of his money on pitching this offseason (Edwin Díaz, José Quintana, Kodai Senga, Justin Verlander, etc.). Now the Mets have added Correa to the lineup.
Here is New York's new look lineup:
- CF Brandon Nimmo, LHB
- 3B Carlos Correa, RHB
- SS Francisco Lindor, SHB
- 1B Pete Alonso, RHB
- 2B Jeff McNeil, LHB
- RF Starling Marte, RHB
- DH Daniel Vogelbach, LHB
- LF Mark Canha, RHB
- C Omar Narváez, LHB
Correa replaces Eduardo Escobar at third base and Escobar, if he isn't traded, figures to platoon with Vogelbach at DH. Escobar is a switch-hitter but he's substantially better against left-handed pitchers, so he and the lefty swinging Vogelbach could form a very productive platoon. The Correa signing upgraded third base and DH.
2. McCann will be on the move
This was likely to happen with or without Correa. The Mets signed Narváez earlier this week and figure to pair him with incumbent Tomás Nido behind the plate. Top prospect Francisco Alvarez, who made his MLB debut late in 2022, is big-league ready and will be part of the catcher/DH mix as well. That leaves veteran James McCann without a defined role.
McCann, 32, has hit .220/.282/.328 in his two seasons with the Mets and is owed $12 million each of the next two seasons. The free agent catching market has been picked clean and the trade market doesn't offer much as well. Catcher-needy clubs (Cubs? Diamondbacks? Rays?) figure to reach out to the Mets and see how much money they're willing to eat to move McCann.
For the Mets, moving McCann is not so much about saving money -- they have committed roughly $388 million to payroll in 2023, saving a few bucks isn't Cohen's priority -- it's about clearing a logjam and creating a more functional roster. They might pay down McCann's entire salary just to move him. With Correa signed, trading McCann moves closer to a top priority.
3. They should keep adding to the bullpen
The bullpen is the one area of the roster the Mets can still meaningfully improve. They were able to retain Díaz, their all-world closer, and setup man Adam Ottavino, plus they've imported David Robertson and Brooks Raley this offseason. As things stand, New York's bullpen looks something like this:
- Closer: RHP Edwin Díaz
- Setup: RHP Adam Ottavino, LHP Brooks Raley
- Middle: RHP Zach Greene, LHP David Peterson, RHP David Robertson, RHP Drew Smith
- Long: RHP Elieser Hernandez
- Depth: RHP Tommy Hunter, RHP Tylor Megill, RHP Bryce Montes de Oca, RHP Stephen Nogosek, RHP Stephen Ridings
There's still some room to improve and, earlier this week, Andrew Chafin and Taylor Rogers, and righty Craig Kimbrel. Hard to think of a better place for Kimbrel to try to rediscover himself, no? He wouldn't have to be The Guy with the Mets.. If they don't want to go the trade route, free agency still offers lefties
Point is, expect the Mets to keep chipping away at that bullpen and improve the roster as much as possible. You don't commit nearly $400 million to payroll only to enter the season with question marks in middle relief.
4. Baty and Escobar are trade candidates
Baty moreso than Escobar. The Mets could easily keep Escobar as high-end infield and DH depth. He only has one year and $10 million remaining on his contract. Baty, meanwhile, entered 2022 as one of the top 30-ish prospects in baseball, and he is now capital-B blocked by Correa at third base. The Mets could move Baty to a new position (left field?), though that's easier said than done. (Just ask the Cardinals about Nolan Gorman at second base.)
At this point though, why wouldn't the Mets at least gauge the trade market for Baty, a near-MLB-ready third baseman who has no obvious path to playing time following the Correa signing? The Athletics, Cubs, Giants, Marlins, Rays, Tigers, Twins, and Yankees all stand out as clubs that could use a young third baseman. Perhaps the Mets could turn Baty into, say, a young center fielder who can take over the position when Nimmo has to move to a corner in a few years. It never hurts to listen. Might as well listen on Baty.
It's fair to wonder whether all these moves have even made the Mets the NL East favorites. Following the Correa signing, FanGraphs has the Mets as the projected best team in baseball with a .568 winning percentage. The Braves are right behind them at .567. On paper, it's close enough that injuries and normal baseball randomness could decide the division race. The NL East race went down to the wire this past season, remember.
Cohen and the Mets are trying to leave nothing to chance though. Adding Correa is a massive upgrade and it frees up the front office to do something like, say, trade Baty for Hendriks to significantly improve the bullpen. Or to use Escobar as a lefty-mashing platoon beast rather than force him into the lineup on an everyday basis. Correa improves the Mets himself and also through the domino effect he has on the rest of the roster.