Major League Baseball free agency officially opens Monday, although it probably will be a very quiet market at first because owners are expected to lock out the players in early December when the current collective bargaining agreement expires. It's far from a sure thing there even is a 2022 season. However, assuming there is one, the top free agent on the market is Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. SportsLine offers early odds on his next team.
Correa was part of Houston's core four along with Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel that led the team to five straight ALCS appearances but just one World Series title after losing in Game 6 to the champion Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night. Correa was a quiet 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in the loss and lined out in the top of the ninth in what was expected to be his final at-bat with the franchise. Correa admitted he was thinking about that.
"It was the only thing going through my mind, to be honest," said Correa. "A lot of feelings, mixed emotions. I spent seven years with this club. Yeah, it was going through my mind for sure."
The 27-year-old was the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year and is a two-time All-Star. It's going to be an incredibly rich free-agent shortstop market with the likes of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story and Javy Baez, but Correa will command the most money. This season, he hit .279 with 26 homers and 92 RBIs in 148 games, leading AL position players with 7.2 Wins Above Replacement, and he's a proven playoff performer.
Correa probably has eyes on the 10-year, $341 million deal that the Mets gave fellow All-Star Francisco Lindor on the eve of this season, but he's not getting that much simply because teams have leverage with so many other good shortstops out there.
It's not impossible that Houston re-signs Correa, but the largest contract the team has given out under current ownership was a five-year, $151 million extension signed by Altuve in 2018. "Now that I'm a free agent, we'll have a conversation and see how that goes,'' Correa said after Tuesday's loss, repeatedly referred to his time with the Astros in the past tense. "My time here was amazing."
The New York Yankees are absolutely signing a shortstop this offseason and have made that crystal clear. Gleyber Torres no longer will play at short but be the full-time second baseman.
The on-the-rise Detroit Tigers also are absolutely signing a shortstop, too, and might have a small advantage in that their manager is AJ Hinch, who was Correa's manager in Houston from 2015-19. Detroit probably can't compete financially with the Yankees if the Bombers really want Correa.
Philadelphia has proven its not afraid to spend money and while Didi Gregorius is under contract through next season, Phillies president Dave Dombrowski told Gregorius that he's not guaranteed to open the 2022 season as the team's starter at short.
Minnesota needs a shortstop with Andrelton Simmons a free agent, although the Twins aren't usually big spenders in free agency. Jorge Polanco can play short but is better-suited for second base.
The Texas Rangers have plenty of money to spend and their primary shortstop this past season was Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Seattle has the longest MLB playoff drought and nearly ended it in 2021. Correa could get the Mariners over the top.
There's always a mystery team or two that may get involved as well.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Which team will sign Carlos Correa?
- Tigers +250
- Yankees +300
- Rangers +500
- Mariners +700
- Phillies +1000
- Twins +1400
- Cardinals +1500
- Astros +2000
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