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Getting to Know Carlos Correa

The Mets have themselves another bona fide star.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re still finding yourself adjusting to this new reality where rules don’t apply and possibilities are endless, you’re not alone. But fret not, this isn’t a hyper-realistic dream or an elaborate hoax being played on you by some cruel entity. Carlos Correa is a Met, signing a 12-year, $315 million contract after briefly committing to spending 13 years with the Giants.

The truly bizarre circumstances that led to Steve Cohen swooping in—literally from Hawaii, as it was—to sign Correa following a postponed press conference and a deal San Francisco backed out on will be talked about for years to come. But there’s a reason Cohen was so committed to getting Correa in Queens, and it’s not just because he’s a messy bench who loves drama. It’s because Correa is a legitimate star, a bona fide stud, Francisco Lindor’s good friend, and the player who, along with his good friend, gives the Mets arguably the best left side of the infield in baseball. Strip away the improbable, almost surreal circumstances surrounding this signing, and you have the Mets with another franchise cornerstone who will become a quick fan favorite for the 12 years.

Correa has been a rising star even before playing his first game. The Puerto Rico-born Correa entered the draft as a 17-year-old and was a projected top pick by many outlets. True to those predictions, he was picked first overall by the Astros in the 2012 MLB Draft, becoming the highest-drafted player out of a Puerto Rican high school. He rose to the top of Houston’s farm system, becoming their Number 1 prospect by 2013, and he eventually made his debut for the club on June 8, 2015.

Correa proved that he belonged right away and wasted no time collecting early career milestones. He picked up a hit and a run batted in in his major league debut and hit his first homer and stole a base the very next night. Over the course of 99 games in his rookie campaign, he slashed .279/.345/.512. He hit 22 homers, contributed 22 doubles, stole 14 bases, and finished with a 136 wRC+ and a 3.4 fWAR. Despite debuting in June, he secured AL Rookie of the Year honors and finished 24th in AL MVP voting. He also enjoyed his first taste of playoff action, homering twice in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Royals.

He avoided the sophomore slump in 2016, hitting .274/.361/.451 with 20 homers, a 123 wRC+, and a 3.9 fWAR in 153 games. His 36 doubles and 96 runs batted in remain career highs. He took that success into 2017, when he was voted an AL All Star game starter for the first time in his career. A couple of weeks later, it was revealed that he had a torn ligament in his thumb, which was his first major career injury and kept him out for much of the second half. He only played 109 games in 2017, but he hit .315/.391/.550 with 24 homers, a career-best 152 wRC+, and a 5.0 fWAR.

In the 2017 postseason, he hit .288/.325/.562 with five home runs over 18 games. The season ended with Houston earning their first ever World Series title. Of course, we cannot talk about Correa’s career and legacy without mentioning the cheating scandal that rocked the baseball world and has marred this achievement. For his part, Correa apologized for participating, saying “We were wrong for everything we did in 2017. It’s not what we stand for. It’s not what we want to portray as an organization, and we were definitely wrong about all that and we feel really sorry.”

Correa had an uneven 2018, where he was hindered by his first bout with back problems and ended the year with a 101 wRC+ and a 3.4 fWAR in 110 games. Following the season, he underwent surgery for a deviated septum, which affected his baserunning. Injuries reared their ugly head again in 2019, limiting the star shortstop to 75 games due to a combination of back and neck ailments, as well as a fractured rib. Despite the limited time on the field, he finished with a 142 wRC+, a .926 OPS, and a 3.8 fWAR. The lingering back issues is what prompted many to speculate that the Giants were spooked by a potential back ailment that was revealed in his physical, though it was revealed that this was not the case. He struggled in the playoffs that year, slashing .191/.257/.382 with three homers in 18 games, a year that ended in heartbreak with a World Series loss to the Nationals.

After a subpar 2020 in which he played 58 (out of 60) games but finished with a career-low 94 wRC+, he roared back in 2021 with arguably his most impressive season to date. In his final season in Houston, he hit .279/.366/.485 with a career-high 26 homers and 104 runs scored, 92 runs batted in, a 133 wrC+, and a career-best 6.2 FWAR in 148 games. He was selected to his second AL All Star team, earned his first Gold Glove award and Platinum Glove, and finished fifth in AL MVP voting. In 16 postseason games, he hit .283/.368/.400 as Houston lost their second World Series in three years, this time to the Braves. He rejected Houston’s Qualifying Offer that winter and became a free agent.

In his first go-around on the open market, Correa went for a short-term deal, inking a three-year, $105.3 million contract with the Twins that included opt outs after each year. The deal, at the time, established the benchmark for AAV by an infielder. His only season in Minnesota was a strong one, as he hit .291/.366/.467 with 22 homers. a 140 wRC+, and a 4.4 fWAR in 136 games. He continued his stellar fielding, leading the AL with a .983 fielding percentage. However, his team missed the postseason, marking the first time Correa had not played in the playoffs since 2016. He exercised his opt out after 2022 and, well, you know the rest.

Cohen coveted a big bat to insert into the lineup, and it became obvious after Correa signed with San Francisco that the two-time All Star was the player he wanted. Correa, who will be 28 on Opening Day, has power but can also hit for average and get on base consistently. He complements the team’s current lineup well, and gives Buck Showalter plenty of options, as Chris McShane discussed. You could realistically hit him anywhere between one through five, giving the team one of the best lineups in the NL.

He has played shortstop for his entire career, but has long been rumored to be open to moving to third base to play alongside his friend Lindor. In addition to being a strong bat, he is a solid defender with a great arm, which should make the transition to third a seamless one. He’s an all-around plus on the field and a great get for New York.

There will be time to analyze concerns surrounding Correa’s health and how his skills might regress during the length of the contract. There will also be time to examine his legacy, how the cheating scandal fits into it, and how it feels to root for a player at the center of such a controversy. I am here to tell you that today is not that day. For now, Mets fans should rest easy knowing they have another star who will only improve the team’s chances to win a World Series title, something that has eluded the franchise for the past 37 years.