In 2020 the Winter Meetings were canceled due to COVID-19. Last year it was looking very possible that we’d see another shortened baseball season for the third time in less than 30 years.
Before the 2021 season Fernando Tatis Jr. signed a fourteen year “Bobby Bonilla”-esc contract with the San Diego Padres, thanks to the increasing Luxury Tax. Fast forward to a month ago at the 2022 Winter Meetings; Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, and Carlos Correa all agreed to massive contacts of eleven or more years. with different teams which included full no trade clauses. Turner’s pay day from the Phillies was with the team he always wanted to play for after making his MLB debut with their “cross town” rival Washington Nationals. Last week Rafael Devers signed an eleven year extension with the Boston Red Sox. It is looking like in under two years five players will have signed contracts or extensions that will see them retiring with the team they will play with in 2023.
Let’s look closer at the Correa deal with the San Fransisco Giants oh wait I mean New York Mets though. After agreeing to a thirteen year $350 million deal with the Giants during the Winter Meetings it is looking like Correa will be playing for the Mets for the rest of his career because the deal he agreed to with the Giants fell apart due to a disagreement regarding his leg injury from 2014 and the Mets are concerned about the injury too. So using a couple examples of other players and injuries they have had.
It is worth noting what the Cubs did in the middle of last season with Jason Heyward keeping him around but telling him he would not be playing another game in Wrigley as a Cub due to his back issues that had him on the injured list. They left him on the injured list from before the trade deadline until the season was over and DFAed him once the free agency stared. Tatis’ shoulder injury at the beginning of the 2021 season right after signing his fourteen year deal is another situation that is worth pointing out.
Why are the Heyward and Tatis injury issues worth noting you ask? Since Correa’s leg injury is a known injury the Mets want to add a clause that gets them out of paying him the full $315 million they are agreeing to if the his leg injury creeps up during the second half of his contract! These two players are guaranteed the money that was agreed to because they passed their physicals before signing the deals without any issues or disagreements. It is obvious Correa does not want to allow the Mets yearly team options for the second half of the contract and it seems to also be pretty clear the he does not want to discuss changing positions if the injury creeps up again either. Only time will tell but the overwhelming belief is Correa will give in and agree to change positions if the injury creeps back up.
The best solution to situations like the Correa injury causing issues during negotiations would be for MLB to do implement a Salary Cap paired with the Luxury Tax the way the NBA does it. Again you are asking why? Simple; this would force teams to spend wisely over fewer years while keeping above average and great players evenly distributed around the league making things more competitive. It could also make it easier for teams to get out of a bad contract faster due to injuries if it is implemented in a creative way.
With a Salary Cap Correa would have signed with the Giants before Christmas as expected. He would have likely still gotten $350 million but it would have likely been for six to eight years with team options in the last three years and a full no trade clause.
With that… teams report to Spring Training in just over one month!