Carlos Correa reportedly set to opt out, should the Braves be interested?

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Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Carlos Correa is likely to opt out of his deal with the Minnesota Twins at the end of the season and elect free agency.

This news comes only six months after he signed a three-year contract with Minnesota worth over $105 million. However, the deal came with opt-outs after every season, so it’s really no surprise that Correa is choosing to once again be a free agent in an offseason that won’t include a lockout this time around.

Correa is having another incredibly productive year, accruing 3.1 WAR in just 89 games. His OPS+ is 128 (28% above league average), and he’s hitting .271 with 14 homers. Anybody with a hole at shortstop will be interested, and the Braves could have a massive one if Dansby Swanson decides to walk after a career year.

If you remember, Atlanta reportedly was in contact with Correa before the lockout. But things didn’t get much further than that. During the lockout, Correa switched agencies and is now represented by Scott Boras, who the Braves typically avoid doing business with. However, talks didn’t stop there; according to Ken Rosenthal, Boras floated the same three-year deal Correa signed with the Twins to several teams, including the Braves.

Here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote before the season talking about the possibility of signing Correa for 2023 and beyond:

According to Rosenthal, Boras floated this three-year deal that includes opt-outs after each season and a no-trade clause to several teams, including the Braves, who had no interest in such a deal. The Atlanta front office has long decided against handing out player options and no-trade clauses, so it was a non-starter. Still, it’s apparent there was mutual interest, and it’s very possible — even likely — that Correa opts out and is a free agent again come November.

That would make him a target for the Braves again, who will have a vacancy at shortstop unless they reach a contract extension with Dansby Swanson. It’s worth noting that Swanson has the same representatives as Freddie Freeman, who many people now think completely mishandled contract negotiations with the Braves, who ultimately blindsided Freeman and traded for Matt Olson. From a professional standpoint, that shouldn’t affect Swanson’s situation, but it wouldn’t be the first time egos got in the way during contract talks.

If Dansby Swanson doesn’t re-sign with the Braves before the end of the season, I expect Alex Anthopoulos to evaluate all of his options this winter, which includes the likes of Correa and Trea Turner.

Ever since fans returned to the ballparks following the COVID-19 pandemic, Liberty Media has shown an increased willingness to spend. They’ve repeatedly talked about eventually having one of the highest payrolls in baseball, and everything they’ve done over the last year suggests they aren’t lying. The Braves are poised to be one of the biggest spenders in the game, making someone like Correa attainable in free agency.

My issue, however, is that I’m not sure Correa will be worth the mega contract he desires. Those type of deals rarely work out in the club’s favor, and Correa comes with severe injury concerns. His age is also a factor, given the position he plays. A lot of his value comes from his ability to be an elite defensive shortstop, but that will inevitably decline as he gets into his mid-30s and beyond.

Because of that, I would rather spend that money elsewhere. If the Braves wanted to shop for a top-of-the-line shortstop this offseason, Trea Turner is a substantially better option and so is Xander Bogaerts. In all honestly, Dansby Swanson may even be more valuable than Correa over the course of their next contracts, and Swanson will probably cost half as much. Right now, Correa is among the best players in the game, but given what he will require to sign in the winter, there are too many red flags to hand him that kind of contract.

Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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