It’s the physical. Again.
The New York Mets, like the San Francisco Giants earlier in the week, have raised concerns about Carlos Correa’s surgically repaired lower right leg, potentially jeopardizing their 12-year, $315 million agreement with the star shortstop, according to people briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly.
The parties could agree to a restructured contract if the Mets continue to express reservations about the long-term stability of Correa’s leg. It might be difficult for the Mets to back out of the agreement entirely after their owner, Steve Cohen, went on record talking about the deal. It also might be difficult for Correa to re-enter the free-agent market and land a comparable contract after two clubs identified the same issue in their physical examinations of him.
The new developments are the latest twist in a saga that shocked the baseball world when Correa and his agent, Scott Boras, pivoted Wednesday from their original 13-year, $350 million agreement with the Giants to strike a separate deal with the Mets.
Cohen confirmed his apparent coup to the New York Post, saying, “We needed one more thing, and this is it.” Major League Baseball warns teams not to comment publicly on pending agreements, noting such remarks might persuade an arbitrator to side with the player in a grievance, a former executive said.
If the Mets remain uncomfortable with Correa’s long-term prognosis, one way to alter the agreement would be to insert language saying that portions of the deal would not be guaranteed if Correa missed a set amount of time with a specific leg problem. Boras, however, might fight any attempt to alter the deal.
Correa, who has played in 148 and 136 games the past two seasons, underwent his physical with the Mets on Thursday, Boras said. Teams generally make agreements official the day after the player’s medical exams unless an issue arises. The Giants were set to follow precisely that plan earlier in the week.
San Francisco struck its deal with Correa on Dec. 13. Correa underwent his physical on Monday, and the Giants scheduled an introductory news conference for Tuesday. But the team postponed the news conference that morning and later confirmed “a difference of opinion over the results of Carlos’ physical examination.”
Correa, 28, required arthroscopic surgery to repair a fractured right fibula and minor ligament damage after he hit an RBI triple and his spike got stuck on the bag in June 2014, when he was 19 and still in the minor leagues with the Astros. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said at the time Correa’s fracture was closer to the ankle than his knee.
In eight major-league seasons, Correa has never gone on the injured list with a right-leg problem. He made reference to the hardware in his leg after a game on Sept. 20 in which he appeared to be injured following a hard slide, but missed no time afterwards.
“He just hit my plate,” Correa told reporters. “I had surgery and he hit it. Just kind of felt numb. Vibrating. So I was just waiting for it to calm down. It was a little scary, but when I moved I knew it was good.”
The Twins medically cleared Correa for a three-year, $105.3 million free-agent contract last March, then made him a subsequent 10-year, $285 million offer after he opted out of the deal at the start of the offseason. If Correa had accepted, the team would have applied greater scrutiny to his physical than it did initially because of the long-term nature of the deal, sources said.
Boras sought to re-engage the Twins after the Giants declined to complete their deal with Correa. But unlike the Mets, who went up $27 million from their first discussion with Correa, the Twins were not willing to move from their initial offer. The Twins also would not have advanced the conversation without investigating the potential issues caused by Correa’s physical with the Giants, major-league sources said.
Boras said Wednesday the Giants advised him they wanted to talk to other doctors before proceeding with Correa, but he was not willing to wait.
Scott Boras: ‘No current issue’ with Carlos Correa’s health as Mets conduct physical
“I said, ‘Look, I’ve given you a reasonable time. We need to move forward on this. Give me a time frame. If you’re not going to execute, I need to go talk with other teams,’” Boras said.
“You’re talking about a player who has played eight major-league seasons. There are things in his medical record that happened decades ago. These are all speculative dynamics.
“Every team has a right to go through things and evaluate things. The key thing is, we gave them (the Giants) medical reports at the time. They still wanted to sign the player and negotiate with the player.”
Team medical personnel occasionally offer different interpretations of a player’s medical records, just as a doctor giving a second opinion on a patient can disagree with the first. The Mets amount to Correa’s second opinion. And they appear to be confirming the first.
(Photo: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)