Carlos Correa rumors: Are Tigers favorites to sign Astros shortstop?

With a clear need and money to spend, Carlos Correa is lined up as the centerpiece of the Detroit Tigers offseason.

The MLB free agent class of shortstops looks good this season, with Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa high on the list. The Astros’ contract extension offer late last spring (reported six years, around $120 million), brought back trade speculation and virtually assured the two-time All-Star would hit the open market this winter.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Detroit Tigers are among the teams who’ll be interested in Correa this offseason.

Correa is finishing up another fine season, with a .279/.366/.481 slash-line, 25 home runs (a career-high), 91 RBI and 34 doubles entering Saturday. His 5.7 fWAR is 11th among all players (pitchers and position players, with 20 Defensive Runs Saved No. 1 among American League shortstops. His bWAR (7.2) is tied for first among AL position players.

By comparison, the Tigers have gotten 0.2 fWAR from their shortstops this season, with a combined slash-line from the position of .203/.275/.324 (.599 OPS; 29th in baseball entering Saturday).

Carlos Correa is the clear centerpiece of the Tigers offseason

As Heyman pointed to, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch was the Astros’ manager with Correa as his shortstop from 2015-2019. The prospect of that reunion may be a key selling point to Correa as he entertains free agent offers.

According to Spotrac, the Tigers only have a little over $44.5 million in projected payroll for 2022 right now. Of course $32 million of that is Miguel Cabrera, as he finishes his Hall of Fame career and plays put the final seasons of an albatross contract the Tigers are stuck with. That $44.5 number will bump up when deals are locked in with arbitration and pre-arbitration players, but the Tigers will be able to spend if they want to this offseason.

Cabrera’s contract comes off the books after the 2023 campaign, unless he finishes Top-10 in MVP voting that season. Then a $30 million option for 2024 would vest…let’s just say it’s unlikely to happen during his age-40 season. If he even winds up playing that season.

If the Tigers want Correa, as they should and reportedly do, they can make him an aggressive offer right out of the gate in free agency. He probably won’t get (or surpass) the $341 million total Francisco Lindor got from the Mets, but the same term (10 years) and $250-$300 million is not out of the question.

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