San Francisco Giants: Carlos Correa is a Giant*

* Update: A week after publishing this post, Correa’s introductory press conference in San Francisco was postponed. His medical exam raised an issue that made the Giants reconsider the deal and before you knew it, Correa was off to the Mets instead. That ultimately fell apart too and the shortstop returned to the Twins. Nevertheless, experience this moment in time when Giants fans could dream about Correa in orange and black.

In the late hours of Tuesday 13 December 2022, news broke on the West Coast that the San Francisco Giants had made their long awaited splash in the free-agent market.

Carlos Correa is now a Giant.

Cue fireworks and confetti. Schedule the parade on Market Street. Spread the word: San Francisco has their shiny new superstar, finally.

When the Giants cruelly missed out on Arson Judge (sorry, I mean Aaron Judge), an air of desperation crept in. Not just in San Francisco, but at every club whose future hopes were pinned to one of the few remaining free-agent superstars on the market this winter.

The frenzy began when it was revealed Judge would stay in New York, and the biggest assets began to drop off the board. Trea Turner to the Phillies. Xander Bogaerts to the Padres. Who would be left for the Giants if they didn’t act fast?

San Francisco couldn’t risk being left behind. They would not be the snotty kid picked last in gym class. They had to pounce quickly, and turned their full attention to Correa. The Puerto Rican shortstop responded positively and negotiations were successful; Correa and the Giants agreed to a 13-year, $350 million deal. It’s a huge, gigantic contract, the fourth largest in major-league history, and the largest ever for a shortstop. The contract is set to have a $26.9 million average annual value, which doesn’t look outrageous on the face of it, even if it will be for 13 years. It is hands-down the biggest contract in Giants franchise history.

Correa’s youth, especially in comparison to his shortstop contemporaries Turner and Bogaerts, ultimately helped determine the price he could command. Correa, 28-years-old, is 15 months younger than Turner, and almost two years younger than Bogaerts. They’ll all be over 40 by the time their deals expire and it’s unlikely any of them will be productive by that time. Nonetheless, if you want a superstar on your team, this is the bargain you have to make.

Let’s talk about what the Giants are getting in Correa. We should start by asking: do they need him?

Remember, Brandon Crawford, the incumbent shortstop and legendary homegrown Giant, is on the roster for 2023. He wasn’t the same player this year as he was in 2021 but Crawford still brought his customary defensive excellence to the position, especially by the end of the season. The soon-to-be 36-year-old has played shortstop, and only shortstop, for over a decade in San Francisco. That cannot be ignored.

Crawford is my favourite Giant. I will defend him to the end of time, but even I can acknowledge that Correa will be an upgrade at the position, both in the field and at the plate. If the Giants can persuade Crawford to play third base in 2023, and spell Correa at short from time to time, it could be a happy marriage that results in the Giants having one of the most elite left-sided infields in the NL. After all, Correa has proven himself to be among the top-tier defensive shortstops, receiving the Platinum Glove award in 2021.

Correa’s outstanding glovework is more than welcome, especially to a roster that struggled defensively in 2022. However, the Giants are hoping it’s Correa’s offensive production that can turn this franchise into a consistent contender.

This season Correa batted .291 with 22 home runs, 64 RBIs and 70 runs scored in 136 games. They’re good stats but perhaps not 13-year, $350million stats. But if we get a bit more advanced, Correa’s signing by the Giants makes a lot more sense. An impressive career 130 wRC+ is a good place to start, as is the 7.2 WAR Correa averages over 162 games (per Baseball Reference).

Correa is renowned for his fondness of analytics and regularly preaches the effectiveness of getting on base. His excellent career .357 wOBA and 129 OPS+ reflect this, and must have been extremely attractive to the Giants’ management. The Giants are getting one of the smartest hitters in baseball, someone who really knows his stuff and loves his craft, and he will punish pitcher’s mistakes. Correa might not hit 30 home runs a year but he doesn’t necessarily need to in order to be a success in a Giants uniform.

A key part of Correa’s game that probably doesn’t get enough discussion, and makes him such a valuable piece to a team like San Francisco, is his quality as a leader. His Twins teammates would remark how often it felt as if they had an on-field manager this year. Twins pitcher Michael Fulmer said of Correa, “He’s a true leader on and off the field. It goes a long way in the clubhouse. You see the reason why he is who he is and the player he is. He takes care of himself and his body, and two, he takes care of everybody else around him, too.” That sounds a lot like someone you’d want being the face of your franchise for the next decade and beyond.

The Giants faced enormous pressure this offseason, to find the pillar they could build their future around. They needed to add a player of Correa’s calibre and now they have him, almost certainly for the rest of his career. Fans had been calling out for the front office to make a move like this, and credit must go to Farhan Zaidi for making it happen. Whatever your personal feelings are towards Correa and his Astros history, there’s no doubt his presence in San Francisco will add more fire to the Dodgers-Giants rivalry. I don’t see that as a bad thing.

It was 6am here in England when I woke up, cold and bleary-eyed, reaching for my phone. There it was in my notifications, the words Giants fans had been waiting for:

Carlos Correa is now a Giant.

Christmas has come early to San Francisco. Enjoy the holidays everybody.

Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @AshDay29

Photo credit for featured image by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images.

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