The San Diego Padres pulled off maybe the biggest surprise signing of the offseason when they inked Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million contract. Bogaerts was the second shortstop domino to fall behind Trea Turner. Late Tuesday night, former Astro-turned-Twin Carlos Correa came off the market.
That leaves Dansby Swanson as the last big-name shortstop who isn’t signed.
Unfortunately for the Padres, Correa is joining the NL West. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Correa signed a gargantuan 13-year, $350 million deal with the Giants. Having been linked with several big-ticket free agents — Aaron Judge chief among them — it felt inevitable San Francisco was going to make a splash this winter.
It’s the longest contract ever for a free agent, the fourth-largest total in MLB history, and the most ever for a shortstop. Only Mike Trout ($426.5 million), Mookie Betts ($360 million), and Judge ($350 million) have secured more guaranteed money.
No Padres fan is looking forward to facing Correa for the remainder of his prime (and probably career), but if you take a step back you’ll realize that Bogaerts’ contract, widely viewed as an overpay, now looks like a steal.
Padres got a steal with Xander Bogaerts after Carlos Correa signed a record-breaking contract with the Giants.
Correa is arguably the more complete player than Bogaerts. The newly-minted Giant also turned 28 in September, whereas Bogaerts turned 30 in October. It’s fine margins, but Correa likely has the edge. But guaranteeing $26.9 million to an infielder through his age-41 season is begging to age poorly.
The Giants won’t care if Correa leads them to (another) World Series or two along the way, but think about Oracle Park’s pitcher-friendly dimensions for a minute and try telling us Correa’s hitting prowess isn’t going to waver down the road.
You’re talking about 399 feet in left-center field, 391 to dead-center, a ridiculous 415 feet in the dreaded Triples Alley, and 322 in right field. We’ll happily take Bogaerts in Petco Park, which Forbes ranked as the No. 29 (or second-worst) pitcher-friendly park in all of baseball in 2022, for the next 11 years.
For what it’s worth, Bogaerts outperformed Correa across the board in 2022. He had more runs (84 to 70), hits (171 to 152), doubles (38 to 24), RBI (73 to 64), and stolen bases (8 to 0), including a better batting average (.307 to .302) and on base percentage (.377 to 367). Correa had the edge in OPS, but just barely (.337 to .333).
Say what you will about Correa’s advanced stats (exit velocity, barrel percentage, and hard-hit percentage) being superior to Bogaerts’ numbers, but to the naked eye Bogaerts was more productive in 2022.
Both Bogaerts and Correa are great players, and we hate to pit them against each other. But it’s hard not to look at Correa’s contract in terms of length, AAV and total guaranteed money, and not draw the conclusion that Bogaerts’ deal is the better bargain.