If the Baseball Gods really do exist, the negotiation marathon between Carlos Correa and the Mets will be over in the near future. Team owner Steve Cohen even said as much himself over the weekend. But when the dust finally settles, how much of a difference will he make on the field?
The period between agreeing to terms and finalizing the contract has been so long that some Mets fans are fine with any outcome at this point (positive or negative). That’s what happens when the mystique of Uncle Stevie swooping in and snatching Correa from the San Francisco Giants wears off.
But after a couple of negative news leaks last week, it’s looking like Correa is finally on the verge of officially becoming a Met. So with that in mind, let’s figure out what sort of upgrade can he provide at third base.
I do love me some Eduardo Escobar and would like him to stick around in Queens. However, the potential uptick in production from Correa would be quite substantial. Proof of this can be found in Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections for the 2023 Mets. I like these projections because we can compare the expected production for both Escobar and Correa, assuming a full season’s worth of trips to the plate.
In 548 plate appearances, Escobar is projected for a .232/.292/.417 triple slash. That’d equal a 96 OPS+ with 21 home runs, 21 doubles, 71 RBI, and 63 runs scored. This performance (mixed in with a -2 Defensive Rating) would equal about 1.5 fWAR.
As for Correa, it’s a different story in 590 plate appearances. ZiPS is projecting a .265/.347/.451 line with 23 home runs, 25 doubles, 75 RBI, 76 runs scored, and a 122 OPS+. That performance (with a +13 Defensive Rating) equals about 5.4 fWAR.
I know fWAR isn’t the end-all-be-all, but this is the difference between a role player and a superstar, as noted by FanGraphs’ scale.
It’s easy to feel disenchanted with the prospect of the Mets finally signing Correa. But, let’s not get it twisted — this is a tremendous upgrade for New York, both on offense and defense.
We also can’t forget about Correa’s postseason resume, which is quite sparkling. The World Series champion played October baseball in 2015 and from 2017-21 with the Houston Astros. All that opportunity helped him rack up some impressive numbers. Across 334 plate appearances, Correa is slashing .272/.344/.505 with 59 RBI and 37 runs scored. His 18 postseason home runs are already among the most in MLB history. Overall, this offensive performance has all led to a 130 wRC+.
The huge regular-season upgrade is notable, but things are different now in Queens. It’s not just about that. After punching a postseason ticket in 2022 for the first time in six seasons, the expectation is not to just get back. It’s to go on a deep run and hoist a World Series trophy. Penciling Correa into the lineup increases the chances of that substantially.
I know what some of you are probably thinking: these numbers don’t mean anything! And you’re right — projections should be taken with a grain of salt. However, it’s a good way to set some general expectations for the year ahead.
And for those who want to throw their hands in the air and wish Correa just signed somewhere else at this point, it’s a reminder of how big this move is for New York.