The Yankees misread the Carlos Correa market

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One look at the contract Carlos Correa signed with the Twins should leave every Yankees fan shaking their head. Hell, a fan of any team other than the Twins, for that matter. A three year deal for $105 million with opt outs after each season for a 27 year-old star shortstop? Sheesh. Considering how his market played out, it’s hard not to wonder if the Yankees’ front office has regrets.

Brian Cashman spoke to the media yesterday, and based on his statements, it’s evident that he ran out of room in the budget Hal Steinbrenner gave him. Via Bryan Hoch’s latest: “We evaluated all the market availabilities from trade to free agency, then placed our bets,” Cashman said. “We were able to attack what was available to us. Once we pulled those down, it closed doors on other things. You only have a certain amount of money to spend, and once you fill those needs, you keep moving.”

In other words: Hal gave Cashman a certain amount he could increase payroll for the 2022 season, and once the deal with Minnesota was completed, there wasn’t much more wiggle room. Hindsight is 20/20, but moving quickly on Josh Donaldson while the market for Correa and Trevor Story remained uncertain looks very, very bad.

Some simple math tells us that Steinbrenner earmarked $25 million in additional payroll for the 2022 season (after arbitration raises). Per Roster Resource, the Yankees luxury tax payroll currently stands at roughly $257 million. That figure was approximately $232 million once the lockout ended and before the Twins deal, Rizzo signing, and Luke Voit trade. Here’s the ledger based on the moves made:

Correa signed for just north of a $35 million AAV, which indeed is a bit more than the $29 million for the two incoming from the Twins deal. Granted, the Cashman would still need to find ways to offset salary elsewhere under Hal’s mandate, but I believe he could have found a way. That still means the likes of Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela, and Luke Voit would have to go (or maybe some other combination of arbitration eligible players).

Money aside, the structure of Correa’s deal makes the Yankees look really bad. Were they completely unaware of the possibility of a short-term deal? There’s really no other explanation, and frankly, that’s simply poor due diligence on their part. In fact, the same day the Donaldson deal came to light, Ken Rosenthal wrote about the possibility of Correa taking a one year contract.

Correa switched agents, theoretically because of his displeasure with the long-term deals at hand prior to the lockout. There were also rumors that his new agent, Scott Boras, spearheaded the concept of a one year deal because he wouldn’t get full commission otherwise (not a great look if true considering he’s supposed to get the best for his client, but I digress). In any event, Correa landed a deal where he could return to the open market after this season. That’s something the Yankees should have been all over.

Correa’s contract would have been the best of both world’s for the Yankees. The Yankees could have still hitched their wagon to Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza long-term and have the best option at shortstop for the short-term.

All told, this looks like a big misstep from the front office. How did the organization lock itself out from Correa or Story before either of those two found new homes? Would a deal for Donaldson really not be available a week later if they still didn’t land a big name shortstop? Again, this still is a very good Yankees ballclub. It’s just hard not to question the front office’s steps to get to this point, even if I’m Monday morning quarterbacking.


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  1. That Guy

    One potential silver lining here: If Correa opts out, which I think likely barring a bad injury or terrible season statistically, we’ll have another shot at him next off season, but this time armed with an additional year look at both Volpe and Peraza. If both of them have a let down this year then presumably we’d be more aggressive.

  2. Jersey Jerry

    Shouldn’t they now be adding more starting pitching and middle relievers? Just sayin’….

  3. Tim

    Can’t take the George would roll over in his grave comments anymore. Maybe none of you were ever at the stadium when they petitioned people to force him to sell the team. His dumb moves were a constant. When he gave up control they started winning.

  4. MikeD

    I don’t believe Boras didn’t connect with the Yankees. I also don’t believe Boras maneuvered Correa into this contract so he can collect a full commission next year. Boras didn’t develop his trusted relationship with players by pulling that type of scam. Way, way too much to lose his side.

    Boras was hired by Correa after his former agent misread the pre-lockout market. He hired Boras, and Boras did what he does well. He structured a contract that will get Correa paid well this year, while providing coverage for the next two years if injured, while positioning Correa for a huge payday post 2022. He shopped the deal around and found the right team, so back to my first point. The Yankees were quite aware of the Correa market.

    I do find it funny that so many Yankee fans didn’t want Correa, but now they do?

    Like many, I wanted Seager, figuring he’d provide the lefty bat at SS and then he could move to 3B when/if Peraza and/or Volpe arrived in a year or two. I love Correa’s skills, but I didn’t want him on a 10-year contract. I totally would have wanted him on the Twins deal. No interest in Story on that six-year deal. It’s going to look bad in two years max.

  5. Wire Fan

    Getting harder and harder to root for this team. Overspending on aging vets and the bullpen and then crying poverty is a Cashman (not ownership) issue though. Cashman’s need to spend big on an 8th and 9th inning combo (when the Ysnkees have had a solid track record of developing high leverage relievers) is a major problem.

    Also a problem is his complete disregard for one key skill… AVAILABILITY. It is one thing to place a bet on a guy coming off an injury on a small deal, but Cashman does this too much. The Hicks 7 year deal was ridiculous for a guy who has zero ability to stay healthy and now he has ridiculously placed an expensive bet on an oft injured Donaldson.

    This team has absolutely zero core. Who is on thus team 3 years from now? The only player who I would be somewhat comfortable with is Cole. You need a nucleus to build around and right now the vankees have none.

    And who the heck knows if 2 regulars (judge, rizzo) will be able to play in any home games this year and they certainly won’t be able to play in Canada with the quarantine rules. How Cashmsn settled on Rizzo is equally absurd as the Correa misread… Rizzo plus Donaldson easily nets Correa.

    The Twins ran circles around the Yankees. They went from a high paid aging vet at 3rd who is an injury risk and a no bat defensive catcher to a young all star SS; a league average catcher and a relatively cheap average to above average 3rd basemam

  6. The Yanks needed a SS & 1B, preferably left-handed. They could’ve signed Corey Seager and Freddy Freeman (or traded for Matt Olson) but instead Hal stuffed his wallet. We need another good SP and 2 teams are tearing it down – will Hal splurge for Castillo, Mahle, Montas or Manea? Of course not.

  7. Barry

    The Twins contract was not an option the Yankees ever had.

    I believe that Correa was never going to sign a pillow contract with teams like the Yankees or Dodgers or Astros. He was only going to do that with a team that never could sign him long-term. You think the Red Sox wouldn’t have signed Correa on this deal when they shelled out for 6 years for the question mark that is Story. When the big teams opted out, teams like the Twins are what was left.

  8. Tim Loceddardstro

    You’re damn right they did, Derek. Correa should have been locked up before the lockout even occurred. I’ve never seen the Yankees outbid by the Twins. That woulda been unthinkable when George was alive. All it is now is budgets and the bottom line and not about winning. When George wanted to win he went out and got Rocket and Coney and Wellsy and even personally went to Cuba to pick up El Duque and bring him here. I just don’t understand this unwillingness to spend money with the richest franchise in sports history that hasn’t even been to a WS since 2009. And meanwhile the small market teams are signing all the big name players that the Sox and Dodgers don’t sign. And as this deal proves you don’t have to sign a guy to a 10 year contract and when a guy is only 26 years old that’s when you want to give out a long contract not when he’s 32. They do this every year. One year it’s Youkilis then Hafner then Jay Bruce and now Donaldson. Every year they go with the cheap old veteran well past his prime instead of spending money on a great young MVP type ballplayer.

  9. Doug

    If Hal didn’t want to increase payroll by more than $25 million than this is on him, not Cashman. You say you think they could have taken on the Correa contract and slashed spending elsewhere but what kind of team would that be? Correa and replacement level players in the infield? This is the least excited I’ve been about an opening day in my entire life but at least Hal can appease his bond holders.

  10. David Pieragostini

    Texas and minn GM outplayed cashman. Clearly cash wanted IKF but Texas didn’t want Sanchez. Minn used Garner to get IKF and parlayed obvious cashman interest in IKF to leverage cash to take Donaldson $$. Cash should have acquired a SS earlier, maybe Iglesias, so wouldn’t have been boxed in.

  11. Larry Mofield

    I think Cashman is just being out thought and Hal being out spent.
    We are talking NY vs all other team’s except Hollywood Dodgers.
    If Donaldson stays healthy he is as good if not better than Gio all be it 18 million more.
    I might have made that deal and kept Torres at SS and DJ at 2B with Rizzo at 1B. I like IKF because he wants to be here as a Yankee.
    I think Judge is headed to LA after the season, I don’t see the Yankees paying him more than 6/120 million.
    You know the comment he has to take care of his family and he is making 17 million this year.
    How did MLB get to 200 plus million for salaries any way.
    The owners tried to slow salaries and got sued.Like telling them they don’t have a right to be accountable for their spending to their boards.
    Plus we traded for a catcher who they knew was hurt. Never trade for damaged product or sign (Pavano, Hafner and Youk)/We just don’t seem to know how to put a group of team players together.
    Two players two differ approaches.
    Gallo 2 strikes keeps swinging from his heels Rizzo 2 strikes Choke’s up and tries to go the other way.
    We need to be a team of team players and less like all or nothing players.

  12. YankeesCano

    George is turning over in his grave knowing the Yankees are NOT going out and getting the best players available. Missing out on multiple players in the last decade. It’s time for Cashman to see the door and be fired.

  13. simon

    Honest question, does a short term deal like this even get considered by Correa’s camp when dealing with the NYY? As much as they’ve put limits on their payroll, do teams/agents/players still treat the yankees differently based on their market and bank account?

    • Good point. It’s also possible Correa simply didn’t want to play in NY. It’s a leap to think the Yankees misread the market.

      • Johnny Bench

        Agreed… Public knows about 3% of whats going on. I’m almost positive Cashman knows about every deal signed about a week before it goes public… Agents must run it by the NYY to see if they’ll top it.

        There are so many possibilities other than, “the yankees are dumb”.

        Maybe the Donaldson contract is the absolute limit Cashman can go and still make a respectable offer to Aaron Judge…

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