In a stunning turn of events, Carlos Correa, a star free agent shortstop, walked away from a 13-year, $350 million contract agreement with the San Francisco Giants late Tuesday and is now expected to join the Mets instead, on a 12-year deal for $315 million.
The events were confirmed on Wednesday by a person familiar with the details. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract with the Mets has not been finalized.
Correa had been scheduled to be formally introduced as a member of the Giants on Tuesday, but the news conference was abruptly canceled in the morning, with The Associated Press reporting that a medical concern had come up during Correa’s physical. There was immediate speculation that Correa could look to land elsewhere; a deal with the Mets came together overnight.
No specific injury has been confirmed by the player or by either team.
For Correa, 28, the new agreement would come with considerably less guaranteed money but also would put him on a team that won 101 games last year instead of the Giants, who went 81-81. It also would put him on a Mets team that has a firmly established shortstop in Francisco Lindor.
Correa and Lindor are good friends and have played together previously on Puerto Rico’s national team. While Correa, a longtime star of the Houston Astros who spent the 2022 season with the Minnesota Twins, is considered the superior fielder, he would presumably move to third base, with Lindor staying at shortstop — a move that would echo Alex Rodriguez’s moving to third base when he joined the Yankees in 2004 in order for Derek Jeter to remain at shortstop.
For the Mets, who have aggressively spent money since being purchased by the billionaire Steven A. Cohen, the agreement would push the team’s payroll, for competitive balance tax purposes, to around $380 million. Because of enhanced luxury tax penalties that were nicknamed the “Cohen Tax,” as they were intended to curtail his spending, the Mets would most likely owe another $110 million in taxes, putting their total outlay at nearly $500 million. Both the payroll and tax figures would shatter M.L.B. records.
If the Mets can finalize their contract with Correa, they would add a terrific all-around player squarely in his prime. Selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Correa has hit .279 in eight seasons with an .836 on-base plus slugging percentage. He won the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, won a World Series title in 2017, has surpassed 20 home runs in six seasons and has routinely ranked among the top defensive shortstops in the game.
He also inspired plenty of outrage around baseball by being the unapologetic spokesman for the Astros after revelations that the team had used an elaborate sign-stealing scheme in the lead-up to their World Series title in 2017.
There were some durability concerns earlier in Correa’s career, with him missing a combined 192 games between 2017 and 2019, but he has played in 342 of his team’s 384 games over the last three seasons.
As the top free agent last off-season, Correa had been expected to sign a long-term deal but instead came to a three-year, $105.3 million agreement with the Twins that gave him a record-setting average annual value for an infielder and the ability to opt out after only one season. He re-entered free agency this fall in a decorated group of shortstops that included Trea Turner (11 years, $300 million with the Phillies), Xander Bogaerts (11 years, $280 million with the Padres) and Dansby Swanson (seven years, $177 million with the Cubs).
Even with the slight reduction in the value of the proposed Mets contract, which is a year shorter and for $35 million less than the Giants’ offer, Correa’s new deal would be the 10th largest in total value in M.L.B. history.
Tyler Kepner contributed reporting.