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Carlos Correa to sign with Mets, not Giants, after San Francisco deal falls apart

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) hits a two-run home run in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2017 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Oct. 29, 2017. | Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

Carlos Correa was supposed to be introduced as the new face of the San Francisco Giants at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

At 8:15 a.m., a media alert was sent out, announcing that the press conference had been postponed, reportedly due to concerns over his physical examination.

Before Tuesday turned to Wednesday on the West Coast, Correa agreed to a new deal, not with the Giants, but with the New York Mets.

Correa’s deal, which was first reported by Jon Heyman of the New York Post and MLB Network, is for 12 years, not 13, and $315 million dollars, not $350 million, an annual difference of just over $673,000.

The irony of Heyman being the one to break the news shouldn’t go unnoticed. He was the one who had originally said that Aaron Judge (or, as he mistyped, “Arson” Judge) appeared to be headed to the Giants, a tweet that lasted for all of seven minutes before he deleted it and corrected himself, admitting he had jumped the gun. While the Judge news turned out to be false, as the Central Valley native ended up staying with the New York Yankees, the Correa news was confirmed by Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times and others.

In the time between Correa’s initial agreement with San Francisco and his new contract with the Mets, Dansby Swanson, the last of the marquee shortstops on the market this offseason, agreed to a seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. Swanson, who won the 2021 World Series with the Atlanta Braves, is being officially introduced in Chicago on Wednesday. The two other biggest shortstops up for grabs had already signed; Trea Turner is headed to the Philadelphia Phillies and Xander Bogaerts joined the San Diego Padres. Left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon, who posted a 2.88 ERA last year with the Giants, signed a six-year deal with the Yankees.

Giants fans who remain loyal to Brandon Crawford, who has held the shortstop position for the last 12 years, will claim they didn’t want Correa anyway. So will those who swore Correa off years ago for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal, though Giants fans seem less bothered by it than most fanbases, considering the Los Angeles Dodgers were one of the biggest victims of said scandal.

Still, the ramifications of not signing Correa are enormous. FanGraphs valued him at 4.4 wins above replacement in 2022, his one season with the Minnesota Twins. Crawford was worth exactly two. Correa turned 28 in September. Crawford will be 36 in January. In four fewer seasons, Correa has been worth almost a full win more than Crawford, and aside from a 6.3 win 2021 season that looks like a blip on the radar, Crawford has been no more than a solid but unspectacular player since 2017.

Even if Crawford returns to that 2021 form last year in one last hurrah with his childhood team, and even if Correa becomes another high-profile Met to spend much of a mega-contract sidelined by injuries, the long-term effects of not signing the Puerto Rican star will be tremendous. Correa is represented by Scott Boras, the agent whose corporation represents some of the league’s biggest stars, including Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Kris Bryant, Dylan Cease, Bryce Harper, Corey Seager and Juan Soto. To back out on a deal with a major Boras client at the 11th hour, even if it’s over legitimate medical concerns, will damage relationships between the club and the sport’s biggest agent.

Yes, Correa does still have to pass a physical with the Mets, but it’s fair to presume whatever came up during his examination with the Giants was discussed, and the Mets decided the risk will be worth taking. He’s going to be their third baseman, rather than play shortstop; fellow Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor has nine more years on his $341 million deal at the position. Despite losing ace Jacob deGrom to the Texas Rangers this offseason, the Mets have committed just over $806 million to players since the current free agency cycle began. MLB Network projects the Mets payroll at $384.3 million for 2023, nearly $100 million more than that of the Yankees.

While the Giants have made some noteworthy additions this offseason, signing outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitchers Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling, they aren’t anywhere near the level of signing that Correa would have been. He would have also helped counter the club’s downturn in attendance, a trend that’s been ongoing since 2017.

What was originally considered one of the biggest free agent markets in MLB history has largely dried up at this point. The Giants could make a move to sign Trey Mancini, who played for the Baltimore Orioles before a Trade Deadline move to the Houston Astros last season. Mancini, a clubhouse favorite and cancer survivor, can play first base, moonlight in the outfield or serve as a designated hitter, effectively handling the role that Darin Ruf had occupied in San Francisco for most of three seasons before being flipped to the Mets.

The Giants could also try to swing a trade for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds, but the asking price is likely to be quite high. Unless the front office is willing to part with top pitching prospect Kyle Harrison, a Bay Area native and De La Salle alum, Reynolds is unlikely to return to the organization that originally drafted him but traded him for what turned out to be less than a season of one-time star Andrew McCutchen.

Since the McCutchen trade, an ill-fated deal that led to minimal returns, the Giants have completely shifted as an organization. Farhan Zaidi’s front office has been one of the most forward-thinking in baseball circles, but the failure to sign a major bat has irritated fans and likely doesn’t sit well with an ownership group that’s watched fan interest decline. In addition to missing out on Judge and Correa, the Giants were the runner-up in the Harper sweepstakes when the outfielder signed with the Phillies in 2019.

The Mets will visit Oracle Park for a four-game set from April 20-23, two weeks after Correa was supposed to play his first game as a Giant. It’s unclear if the boos from the crowd will be directed at Correa for not coming to SF, for his role in the Astros scandal or at the front office for not signing the superstar.