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.