In a wild twist overnight, Carlos Correa agreed to a $315 million, 12-year contract with the free-spending New York Mets after his pending deal with the San Francisco Giants came apart over an issue with his physical.
The agreement with the Mets was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was subject to a successful physical. Details were first reported by the New York Post.
“We need one more thing, and this is it,” Mets owner Steve Cohen told The Post from Hawaii. “This puts us over the top."
Correa, an All-Star shortstop, would play third base for the Mets, with buddy Francisco Lindor remaining at shortstop.
“This really makes a big difference,” Cohen told The Post. “I felt like our pitching was in good shape. We needed one more hitter."
Correa's addition would increase the Mets' luxury tax payroll next year to the $385 million range, putting them on track to pay a record tax of about $110 million — more than double the current high of $44 million set by the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers. The estimates would change if Correa's deal contains deferred money or if New York trades players.
Correa would cost the Mets $49.88 million next year in salary and tax, if there is no deferred money in the deal.
The Giants postponed a news conference Tuesday to introduce Correa after a medical concern arose during his physical, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.
Correa and the Giants agreed on Dec. 13 to a $350 million, 13-year deal, subject to a successful physical, one of the people said. One person confirmed that Tuesday's conference was put on hold because the sides were awaiting the results of testing. A second person said a medical issue was flagged during Correa's physical.
Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi confirmed Wednesday that there was indeed a concern raised during the physical. Correa's agent, Scott Boras, struck a deal with Cohen and the Mets less than 24 hours later.
“While we are prohibited from disclosing confidential medical information, as Scott Boras stated publicly, there was a difference of opinion over the results of Carlos’ physical examination," Zaidi said in a statement. "We wish Carlos the best.”
New York was in talks with Correa and still pursuing him just before he agreed to sign with the Giants, The Post reported.
“We kind of picked up where we were before and it just worked out,” Cohen told the newspaper.
Major League Baseball and the players' association instituted a new fourth luxury tax threshold last winter, dubbed the “Cohen Tax” because it was aimed at Cohen. The added threshold starts at $293 million in 2023, and the Mets will pay at a 90% rate because they will owe tax for the second straight year.
New York won 101 regular-season games last season, the second-most in franchise history, and lost to San Diego in the wild-card playoff round.
Correa, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, has a .279 career batting average with 155 homers and 553 RBIs in eight big league seasons. He also has been a stellar postseason performer, with 18 homers and 59 RBIs in 79 games.
Just about the only knock on Correa's resume is durability. He has played at least 150 games in a season only once because of various injuries.
Correa was a free agent one year ago after leaving the Houston Astros, and he reached a $105.3 million deal with the Minnesota Twins. That agreement gave the two-time All-Star the right to opt out after one year and $35.1 million to hit the market again.
The 28-year-old Correa terminated his deal and went back on the free-agent market.
Correa hit .291 with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs in his one season with Minnesota.
He was selected by Houston with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, and he played a key role in the Astros’ rise from the bottom of the AL West to the franchise’s first World Series title in 2017.
The Astros’ championship was tainted by a sign-stealing scheme, and Correa has been booed lustily in some cities since the scandal surfaced.
AP Baseball Writers Janie McCauley and Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.
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