The Mets show interest Carlo Correareport Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Dan Hayes and Andy McCullough. It’s not clear how committed they are to getting to the top of the remaining free agents, but their presence at least on the periphery of the market makes for an intriguing twist.
This offseason has been dominated by Mets headlines, with the team signing a number of top free agents. New York made nine-figure pledges to keep it Edwin Diaz ($102 million over five years) and Brandon Nimmo ($162 million over eight years). The Mets were brought in Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86.66 million deal — tying the annual salary record they set with last offseason’s three-year deal Max Scherzer. They agreed on agreements Kodai Senga on a five-year, $75 million deal and have co-signed smaller but still notable deals Jose Quintana (two years, $26M) and David Robertson (one year, $10 million).
That spending spree contributed to a roster that already had the highest payroll in the league. Certainly, the Mets also faced a number of important departures. they allowed Jacob de Grom, Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker sign somewhere else. However, they are already projected well beyond this year’s spending level. New York opened the 2022 campaign with around $264 million in player wages; They’re forecast by Roster Resource at a staggering $336 million next season.
It’s an unprecedented number in league history that leaves one wondering just how far owner Steve Cohen and his front office are willing to go. Cohen hasn’t been deterred by traditional spending habits, and he certainly seemed unfazed by the luxury tax said to be in place to prevent a team from spending head and shoulders above the rest.
Roster Resource currently values the Mets’ luxury tax number at approximately $350 million. You are $117 million away from the property tax threshold and will exceed all four penalty levels. New York paid the CBT last season, so they also face escalating penalties as they switch for the second straight year. The Mets pay 30% tax on their first $20 million over threshold ($6 million), 42% tax on their next $20 million in surplus ($8.4 million), 75% tax on their next $20 million down Excess spending (MM$15) and 90% tax on each additional dollar. New York is currently an estimated $57 million over the fourth and final tier, colloquially known as the “Cohen Tax,” having been introduced in the recent CBA, at least in part in response to Cohen’s reputation for spending. That’s another $51.3 million in taxes, bringing New York’s total projected tax bill to a staggering $80.7 million.
Of course, that’s before considering the possibility of adding another mega deal. Correa is the best free agent still on the board. At the start of the offseason, MLBTR was forecasting a nine-year, $288 million contract. The two top shortstops are already off the board – Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts – better than our predictions in each case, with Bogaerts’ $280 million contract far exceeding most expectations. Given the strength of the market, it now seems likely that Correa will break the $300 million mark, and it could be argued that it’s nearing the $360 million guarantee Aaron Richter received from the Yankees due to Correa’s youth and greater defensive worth.
Even if we conservatively set Correa’s nine-year pre-offseason guidance of $288 million, that would translate to an annual salary of $32 million. New York would also be taxed at 90%, effectively making it a $60.8 million commitment for the star shortstop next season. It would be the kind of move a team has never made for a single player, and even that now seems like a pretty pessimistic view of Correa’s earning power. Sure, the deal could last longer than nine years and bring the annual salary down a bit – Turner and Bogaerts each got 11 years despite being older than Correa – but any change to the contract would mean the team investing an immense sum. Cohen has clearly established himself as an owner who doesn’t care about precedent, and it would be foolish to count the Mets on every free agent at this point.
The Mets don’t need a shortstop, of course Francisco Lindor incarcerated as her long-term answer to the position. Third base does not resolve from a Star to Veterans Eduardo Escobar come from an average season and top prospects Brett Baty still unproven at the MLB level. Relying on Escobar and Baty wouldn’t be a disaster, but installing Correa alongside it would be Peter Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Lindor would include all-star caliber players throughout the infield.
Beyond the Mets, the Giants and incumbent Twins are reported to be prioritizing Correa at this stage of the offseason. They are widely regarded as the best suitors, while teams like the Cubs and Red Sox are more loosely associated with him. Dansby Swansoncatching the attention of many of the same clubs remains available as the clear second-best positional player on the open market.