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The whole situation with Carlos Correa happened so fast it almost felt like a fever dream, in part because he signed with the New York Mets while most of us — especially on the West Coast — were asleep. Correa went from signing with the San Francisco Giants to having his inaugural press conference postponed due to a reported issue with his body to a New York Met during the week. Giants fans are clearly upset. They thought they would land their next franchise shortstop that would lock 6th place for more than a decade. They didn’t. But nobody really knows why. Sure, there were reports that Correa’s physical exam results had something to do with it, but those reports have not been confirmed. It also seems fishy that the Giants would have such a massive problem with Correa’s medical results, but the Mets would be willing to gobble him up for more than $300 million immediately afterwards.
I spoke to Chris Munford of the California Sports Institute, a consultant to professional franchises on strength and conditioning and performance, to learn a little more about what might have happened. The Giants apparently pulled out of the deal due to an unforeseen issue with Correa’s medical exams. However, prior to this issue, San Fran was willing to give Correa $350 million over 13 years. The first question I had to answer was how bad Correa’s physical results had to have been for the organization to walk away from being a franchise shortstop.
“Based on his injury history, the only thing that would kind of stand out to me would be his lower back issues,” Munford told Deadspin. “If you look at yourself [Correa’s] other things – broken fingers, even the broken fibula – really aren’t a big deal. For what we know, that lower back would be the only place I could think of to have a problem. However, Giants insider Susan Slusser has come forward and claimed there was no problem with Correa’s back.
Additionally, other reports have indicated that the doctors cleared Correa of all problems. However, the Giants apparently disagreed with their assessment. What could this disagreement possibly have been?
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“If it’s true that the Giants camp came after the medical and had a problem with the results, then there’s a good chance there’s more going on than the medical situation,” Munford admitted. He continued, “However, an executive might look at the deal and notice that [Correa] was injured many times, not seriously, but year after year he was injured. They give him $350 million. My feeling is that they were probably looking for other guarantees to keep their risk low.”
Correa has had a string of minor injuries in recent years. Munford goes on to explain that there was likely a clause in Correa’s contract that would have affected his salary if he hadn’t hit certain seasons each season. Given Correa’s history of only playing 140+ games in a season twice in his career, it’s likely he and agent Scott Boras didn’t want to agree to those terms. Meanwhile, the Mets likely don’t have such terms in their contract with Correa.
While the Giants may have had an issue with medical results, “It’s not at all surprising that the Mets don’t,” Munford says. “There is no standardized test for these things. There isn’t, so if a team really wants someone to pass the physical, they will. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that one team would approve someone’s medical treatment and another team wouldn’t.”
We still don’t know what really pushed the Giants away from Correa or vice versa. The consensus seems to be that it had something to do with Correa’s medical history. Some reports suggest that Correa’s fractured fibula from 2014 played a role, but it’s safe to say the Giants — and definitely everyone associated with Correa — would have known about this injury well before the physical was ever carried out. Munford has even had fibula surgery before. He told Deadspin that there was practically a “zero percent chance”. [the fibula] is the reason. It doesn’t affect explosiveness or stability at all.” It seems likely that other motives were involved, but blaming a medical issue would be easy for the Giants to hide behind.
“If you look at Instagram or Twitter responses to all of this, they’re wreaking havoc on the boardroom out there in San Francisco for not signing it anyway. The fans are in an uproar,” Munford said. “Public perception is crucial. If they just turn around and say, “Yeah, we’re not signing him because we think it’s too much money now,” they’d really open a nasty can. If they say ‘well, we don’t sign because he gets hurt a lot’ or ‘there was something wrong with the medical treatment’, that softens the blow.” Munford wants to clarify that he’s not claiming that anything else was involved, but that it would make sense if that were the case. The allegation of medical problems also explains the lack of information that has been released since the Correa dilemma emerged.
“A team has the right to provide whatever it wants and with collective bargaining agreements the team can only say so much about their physical condition. When you say “medical,” you automatically give yourself the shield of not saying anything more because you’re not legally allowed to,” says Munford. With so little information available about this situation, the Giants’ claim that the deal fell through due to medical reasons might be true, but it’s perhaps just as likely that they don’t want certain aspects of the deal to be public knowledge at this moment .
Details surrounding Correa are certainly fishy, and until more information is released, there’s no way we can know what the Giants’ true intentions were. That is, the current pool of information does not suit me, and I would not be shocked if contradicting information was published very soon.