Will the Red Sox make waves this offseason? Boston has financial flexibility and a strong desire to bounce back from a disappointing 2022. As such, we’ll examine whether several notable free agents make sense (or don’t make sense) as the club looks to retool for 2023 and beyond.
The Red Sox didn’t splurge for Carlos Correa last offseason when the shortstop hit free agency after seven seasons with the Houston Astros.
Instead, the Red Sox signed Trevor Story to a six-year, $140 million contract and moved the longtime Colorado Rockies shortstop to second base, with Xander Bogaerts retaining his usual position on the left side of Boston’s infield.
One year later, circumstances have changed, as Bogaerts became a free agent after opting out of his contract with the Red Sox. And Correa is back on the open market, having opted out of the deal he signed last winter with the Minnesota Twins.
Should Boston target Correa this time around? Let’s assess the situation.
Age: 28 (Sept. 22, 1994)
Weight: 220 pounds
2022 stats (with Minnesota Twins)
136 games (590 plate appearances)
22 HRs, 64 RBIs
140 OPS+, 4.4 fWAR
Career stats (eight seasons)
888 games (3,813 plate appearances)
155 HRs, 553 RBIs, 33 SBs
129 OPS+, 31.3 fWAR
Why Correa makes sense for Red Sox
Correa is one of three high-profile shortstop replacements the Red Sox could consider in free agency if Bogaerts signs elsewhere, with Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson being the other two. And while Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom recently emphasized re-signing Bogaerts is the club’s top priority this offseason, there’s a lot to like about Correa’s profile should Boston venture down an alternate (and more expensive) path.
First of all, Correa is the youngest of the aforementioned shortstops, two years younger than Bogaerts. He also boasted impressive Statcast metrics in 2022 — 96th percentile in max exit velocity, 93rd percentile in expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA), 92nd percentile in expected slugging percentage (xSLG) — that suggest he still might reach another level in 2023 and beyond. Which is saying something, because Correa long has been a solid source of production, capable of hitting for average, getting on base and clearing the fence while playing, at times, premium defense.
Correa, a two-time All-Star, is going to get paid in free agency. But it’s worth noting the Red Sox wouldn’t need to surrender draft-pick compensation to sign the 2012 No. 1 overall pick, as he was ineligible to receive (and then reject) a qualifying offer from the Twins after receiving one from the Astros last offseason. The same can’t be said for Turner or Swanson, who received qualifying offers from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, respectively. (The Red Sox extended a qualifying offer to Bogaerts, meaning they’ll acquire draft compensation if he leaves in free agency, but they won’t need to relinquish picks if they retain their franchise cornerstone.)
Why Correa doesn’t make sense for Red Sox
Price, mostly. MLB Trade Rumors projected a nine-year, $288 million contract for Correa, nearly $100 million more than MLBTR predicted Bogaerts to land over seven years. That’s obviously a hefty sum, and the optics of shelling out so much additional cash for a polarizing player — the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal still hangs over Correa’s head — instead of their beloved homegrown star would be difficult to justify. Correa might be a better all-around player than Bogaerts, but is he really that much better?
Correa seemingly answered questions about his durability over the past three seasons. Still, injuries were a slight problem early in his MLB career. And although Correa has a very strong defensive track record, highlighted by a Platinum Glove in 2021, he did experience some regression in the field last season. Alarming? Not really. But worth monitoring, nonetheless.
Verdict: Best fit of the three big-name potential Bogaerts replacements.
Prediction: Correa signs with the Chicago Cubs.