Carlos Correa makes the SF Giants worth caring about again

Carlos Correa is a San Francisco Giant. There’s a sentence hardly anyone expected to ever see.

The Giants made the move they needed to make, securing a star player to be the face of the franchise they’ve lacked since Buster Posey called it quits. While he doesn’t quite have the cache of Aaron Judge, Correa is a young, outstanding player with a likeable, engaging personality — the ideal choice to build a team (and marketing campaign) around.

And while the years and money may seem insane on the surface, the deal absolutely makes sense. Correa is a perfect fit for the Giants, for their team-building philosophy, for their future and for their fans. The move completely changes the outlook of the franchise in both the short and long term.

Ever since Farhan Zaidi took over the front office, the Giants’ philosophy has shifted away from long-term, big-money deals to one that values ​​building a contender from within. Although never explicitly stated, it was clear the Giants’ plan was to be reasonably competitive while the prospects developed, and once they became contributors, the Giants would supplement the roster with key free agent signings. It was a solid plan with a track record of success in other organizations, and although it would likely mean two to four years of missing the playoffs, the payoff would be worth it.

Then, 2021 happened.

That incredible season took everyone by surprise, including the Giants. It changed the calculus for the team, pushing its window of contention open much earlier than anticipated. It also created certain expectations from the fan base, who rightly expected a contending team to act like, well, a contender. That meant spending big on marquee players who would help immediately.

Last winter, though, the Giants took a different approach. They gambled that the success of the 2021 team would carry over enough to keep them competitive in 2022 without adding any stifling commitments to free agents who, while talented, were expensive, were on the wrong side of 30 and would potentially block the paths for prospects to emerge while chewing up valuable payroll space.

And it made sense! Squeeze what was left out of a team that just won 107 games, supplement it with a few small signings, and keep your options open for when you have long-term pieces in place. The Giants had a process, and they were sticking to it.

Well, we all know how that went. Players regressed, and the Giants struggled to a .500 finish. More worrisome was the fact that most of their top hitting prospects did not progress as expected. The Giants looked like an aging team with no real help on the way while their fan base grew more and more apathetic.

This offseason required a pivot. If they wanted to stay relevant in a top-heavy division, not to mention in a city they share with the NBA’s premier franchise, the Giants needed to make a splash. They needed a player to build around and a face to market, and Correa checks those boxes.

Judge would have been great and would have sold a ton of season tickets, inflatable gavels, powdered wigs, the works — but getting him to leave the Yankees always seemed like a long shot. Correa was widely seen as the next-best player available (you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find analysts who considered him better than Judge even), and the Giants’ landing him is a tremendous win for a number of reasons.

For one, signing Correa won’t cost the Giants a draft pick and international bonus pool money, since he didn’t receive a qualifying offer from his previous team (he wasn’t eligible). That’s a big deal for an organization that still wants to build a contender from within, so the Giants won’t have to deviate from their long-term plan while also strengthening the team they currently have.

It also adds some buzz at a time the Giants desperately could use some. Although they won’t admit it, they’re absolutely locked in a battle with the Warriors for Bay Area entertainment dollars and could not head into the new year with a stale, star-deprived roster. Attendance was already dwindling, and a boring offseason would have been a death knell for ticket sales. Correa has the ability to get people excited about the Giants again.

Plus, Correa is fair really good. Although he hasn’t blossomed into the perennial MVP candidate many thought he’d be by now, he’s an excellent defender, an above-average hitter and only 28, which means there’s a real possibility there are MVP seasons yet to come. He makes the Giants better offensively and defensively, and he’s a true threat in the middle of the lineup. Furthermore, he gives the top prospects a little more breathing room to develop, into either contributors or trade pieces.

But maybe most importantly, Los Angeles Dodgers fans absolutely loathe Correa, to the point where it was reported Los Angeles wasn’t pursuing him due to the fallout it would cause with its customers. That all stems from the sign-stealing controversy from 2017, when Correa was a member of the Houston Astros team that beat the Dodgers in the World Series. Allegations aside, the fact that Correa is already despised by Dodgers fans makes him someone Giants fans can easily rally around. Add in the fact that he helped cost the Dodgers a ring, and you might as well start building his statue already.

It’s impossible to overstate how badly the Giants needed to make this move. Did they overpay in years and money? Probably, but who cares? The Giants are worth a reported $3.5 billion and can afford to offer stupid amounts of money to lure the best free agents here.

Signing Correa also smashed two annoying narratives: that the Giants were incapable of attracting top hitters, and that they’d rather operate like a small-market team with limited funds. It was nice to see them as the big kid on the block for once, flaunting their immense wealth and simply outbidding the competition to get their guy. A multibillion-dollar organization should act like it once in a while.

Also, the Giants’ willingness to spend will play well with future free agents — and Shohei Ohtani happens to be hitting the market next winter. Good timing.

It’s not overstating things to say the Correa signing has completely changed the Giants’ outlook. This is suddenly a team worth watching again — and, more importantly, worth caring about again.

And it managed to troll the Dodgers hard in the process. A win all around.

Leave a Comment