A week after missing out on Aaron Judge, the San Francisco Giants signed a $350 million consolation prize.
Reports came out on Tuesday night that shortstop Carlos Correa, a two-time All-Star and the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year, was signing a 13-year, $350 million contract with the team. It’s the most expensive contract ever given out to a shortstop, ties the longest contract ever signed and is the fourth-most expensive deal given out by total dollar amount to any player in Major League history.
Correa was drafted in 2012 by the Houston Astros with the first overall pick, and was called up to the Major Leagues in 2015 by Houston after less than a month in Triple-A. He won the Rookie of the Year Award after homering 22 times in just 99 games, good for an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .857. He posted some of his best numbers in 2017, helping to lead the Astros to their first championship with a .315 batting average, .941 OPS and 24 home runs, though those numbers were aided by Houston’s sign-stealing system, a scandal that became public after the 2019 season.
During the Astros’ 2017 playoff run, he homered five times in 18 games, including twice in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He followed José Altuve’s homer with one of his own to give Houston a two-run lead in the 10th inning of Game 2, and he went deep again in Game 5 to put the Astros up 11-8 before a Dodger comeback sent the game to extra innings. Following Houston’s Game 7 victory, he proposed to his girlfriend on the field at Dodger Stadium.
His success in that World Series, combined with his participation in the trash-can banging that made the Astros infamous when it came to light following the 2019 season, made Correa and many of his Astros teammates into villains around baseball. Last week, it was reported that the Dodgers had no interest in signing Correa due to his role in the scheme, even with a hole at shortstop after Trea Turner left to sign an 11-year, $300 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Turner’s contract, which was officially signed last Thursday, is now just the fifth-highest overall contract for a shortstop, trailing Correa, Francisco Lindor, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Corey Seager. By average annual value (AAV), Correa slots in at fourth behind Lindor’s deal with the New York Mets, Corey Seager’s with the Texas Rangers and Turner.
In 2021, his final season with Houston, Correa hit a career-high 26 homers, made his second All-Star team, won his first Gold Glove and helped lead the Astros to the World Series, which they lost to the Atlanta Braves. He had initially pursued a deal north of $300 million last offseason after his contract expired in Houston, but ended up opting to sign a three-year deal with the Minnesota Twins for $105.3 million, with the AAV of $35.1 the highest ever for an infielder. His power numbers dipped slightly to 22 homers and 24 doubles, but he batted .291 and opted out of his deal after putting together a successful campaign, though he didn’t have the team success he had experienced in Houston.
The Twins fell off in August after a series sweep of the Giants in which he went 8-for-12, while the Astros won their fourth American League pennant in six years and second World Series. His successor at shortstop, Jeremy Pena, was named World Series MVP.
Minnesota was one of his major suitors this offseason, along with the Mets. The Twins offered him a 10-year deal for $285 million that would easily have been the largest contract by total value in franchise history, but he instead chose to come to the Bay Area.
Correa’s presence in a Giants uniform should also help provide a new spark to the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. While fans in San Francisco still consider the Dodgers as an archrival, the Giants finished third in the National League West last year, behind both the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. The Padres, who signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million deal last week, eliminated the Dodgers from the playoffs last year in the National League Division Series.
The Giants finished eight games behind the Padres and 30 behind the Dodgers in 2022, but as the Phillies showed with their October run to the World Series, a third-place division finish isn’t necessarily a death sentence with the introduction of a third Wild Card spot in each league.
Correa will be 41 by the time his contract expires. Unlike his deal in Minnesota, which had an opt-out available after each of the first two seasons, there are none with the Giants, and he has a full no-trade clause. To put the length of the deal into perspective, the Giants signed a 20-year naming rights deal for their stadium with Oracle before the 2019 season. Should both Correa’s contract and the stadium contract be honored in full, the stadium will just have three more years locked in by its current name—and that’s assuming Oracle is still intact as a corporate entity by then. Oracle Park is the stadium’s fourth name, following Pac Bell, SBC and AT&T, an average of a new name every six years.
As for Brandon Crawford, the East Bay native and fan favorite who has been a mainstay at shortstop for the Giants since his debut in 2011, he’s expected to slide over to third base, a position vacated with the expiration of Evan Longoria’s contract. Shortstop is the only position Crawford has played in his entire Major League career, but if he wants to stay in San Francisco the last year of the two-year, $32 million contract that he signed after his renaissance of a 2021 season, he’ll likely have to do it at a new position.
Crawford, who will turn 36 in January, was an enormous part of San Francisco’s 107-win 2021 season, hitting a career-high 24 homers, and career bests in batting average (.298), on-base percentage (.373) and slugging percentage (.522). Those numbers all regressed in 2022, with his .231 batting average and .344 slugging the worst marks he’s put up since his 66 games as a rookie in 2011.
It’s speculated that Crawford, who has spent his entire professional career in the Giants organization, would be willing to make the move to third base, but if he’s dead-set on playing shortstop, he’ll either have to move into a bench role or ask for a trade. Considering his lack of offensive production last year, San Francisco would likely have to eat most of his contract in any hypothetical deal. One potential suitor in that scenario: the Oakland Athletics, who could use Crawford as a stopgap and mentor to Nick Allen, a slick fielder who’s still developing his offensive skillset.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]