Why Detroit Tigers’ offer to Carlos Correa was both fair and insulting

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 31: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after the 9-5 win against the Atlanta Braves in Game Five of the World Series at Truist Park on October 31, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 31: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after the 9-5 win against the Atlanta Braves in Game Five of the World Series at Truist Park on October 31, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers tried to jumpstart negotiations with Carlos Correa, but those conversations didn’t get far

The Detroit Tigers were interested in Carlos Correa. They didn’t care to be very private about their affection, either.

The meeting was blown off by Hinch as a meeting between friends and delivering a gift for Correa’s new baby, but their meeting nearly broke the internet and certainly contained conversation beyond the best brand of diapers.

After the Detroit Tigers got their shortstop in former Cubs and Mets infielder Javier Baez, there were several reports from The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen and ESPN’s Buster Olney about what the Detroit Tigers offered Carlos Correa.

The numbers varied; anywhere between 8 years, $270 million, and 10 years, $275 million reported. It remains unclear if the offer came before or after the 10-year, $325 million deal that the Texas Rangers made with Corey Seager.

The gut reaction to such news is some combination of “why in the world would he accept that” and “what a slap-in-the-face.” Even if those numbers were relayed to Correa’s camp after Seager’s deal, though, it isn’t as simple as calling it an insult or non-starter.

An offer should be viewed as just that. It would have been a bit disingenuous if the Detroit Tigers offered Correa a $300 million-plus contract just weeks after telling the media that the club would not do that. This is pure inference, but I believe the Tigers knew that Correa was highly unlikely to sign before the lockout. Top free agents signing late isn’t some new trend. Prince Fielder, Max Scherzer, and Trevor Bauer are a few examples of players who held out for their massive paydays.

With the uncertainty of the lockout and the Tigers watching Seager and Semien go to a surprise suitor like the Rangers, it makes sense why they would rather address the position sooner rather than later–especially with teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, and Phillies all lurking for possible help (and who knows how many other surprise teams).

At the same time, it wasn’t that important to get Correa signed before the lockout. What was important was getting a serious gauge on a) whether Correa was interested in Detroit in the first place, and b) find out what that price tag really looks like (and let’s be real, that tag is probably different depending on which team is asking the question).

What better way to get ahold of Correa’s market than making an offer where if he took it, the club would be happy? If not, they can go into the lockout knowing they have a real shot at their guy. The Tigers have to start somewhere in any negotiation, and it’s probably natural to start somewhere below what one would actually pay; just as anyone would when buying a car or popping into a garage sale. Again, pure inference, but my guess is that the Tigers didn’t get enough sense that Correa was interested in the Tigers, or if he was, the price was so far above market that it didn’t make sense to continue to pursue.

I’m no psychologist, but I get the sense Correa loves the big stage, bright lights, and tall buildings. He wants all the smoke, as the kids would say. Would that be available in Detroit? Hardly. Maybe in five years, at best, when Greene, Torkelson, and Mize are entering their prime. That’s a tough sell to a player who has annually been in the mix to represent the AL in the World Series since 2017.

Correa is likely to sign for over $350 million and the Tigers knew that when they made their offer. That offer was never meant to be accepted. Low-ball be damned, that offer served its purpose and pointed the Tigers down other paths.

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