The Mets have shown interest in star free agent Carlos Correa

Written by Ken Rosenthal, Dan Hayes, and Andy McCullough

A surprising new team debuted in the Carlos Correa lottery — or perhaps not so surprising, considering how much money the New York Mets have already spent this offseason.

Yes, Steve Cohen might be back again.

Cohen’s Mets are showing interest in Korea, according to sources familiar with the team’s thinking. Correa, 28, will likely play third base for the Mets, along with fellow Puerto Rican native Francesco Lindor.

“I would say there is some smoke,” said one of the Mets people. “I’m not sure how big the fire is, though.”

Mets general manager Billy Eppler declined to comment.

While the full pursuit of Corea might seem like a stretch, given the amount of Corea’s projected payday and the expenses already spent by the Mets this winter, Cohen has really expanded the parameters of what an owner can spend.

Steve Cohen (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The acquisition of Correa would mark another stunning addition for Cohen, whose team has already signed pitcher Justin Verlander, quarterback Brandon Nemo and three other free agents in the offseason, pushing luxury tax salaries to nearly $350 million, according to Fangraphs. With fines included, the Mets’ total salary would be approximately $421 million, the highest in major league history.

Despite all that Cohen has invested, people familiar with his thinking noted that the owner still believed the Mets needed more offense, prompting the team to explore not only the Correa market, but also players like JD Martinez and Michael Conforto.

Correa, the highest remaining free agent, will likely cost more than $30 million more per season, or possibly less on an annual basis if he signs a 10-plus year deal — a possibility, according to sources. Two other free agent players, Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts, signed 11-year deals worth $300 million and $280 million, respectively.

The Mets wouldn’t be alone in any pursuit of Corea. The Minnesota Twins view him as their primary target, and the San Francisco Giants are also believed to be in the mix. After losing Yankees sweeper Aaron Judge, the Giants are under great pressure to find a franchise pillar to build around.

At the start of the season, many executives saw Correa as the most compelling player in the market, due to his huge talent, relatively young age, and ability to remain in a crucial defensive position as shortstop. As the Winter Meetings wrapped up last week – after Turner, Bogaerts and Judge were all signed to the Earthquakes – Correa remained the best player in the market. Entering the Mets team could activate clubs such as Minnesota or San Francisco to meet the demands of Correa and his representative, Scott Boras.

A two-time All-Star, Correa failed to find a long-term commitment that lived up to his expectations last winter. He settled on a three-year, $105.3 million agreement with the Twins, then opted out after hitting 22 home runs with a 0.834 OPS. Although advanced defensive metrics weighed him down in 2022, Correa won the Platinum Glove as the best defenseman in the sport with Houston in 2021.

At some point, the Mets are expected to make moves to reduce their salaries. Catcher James McCann and right fielder Carlos Carrasco are among the players they might trade, and third baseman Eduardo Escobar could be on the move if Correa joins the club. The Mets may also have to explore interest in top prospects like Brett Baty and Mark Vientos.

the athleteWill Sammon contributed to this report.

(Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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