Actually, Steve Cohen Is Great for Baseball
Behold! A billionaire who enjoys giving money to others!
Every year around Christmas I go to Costco to get my eyes checked for new reading glasses. I do this because I never know how my health insurance plan will change from year to year, and I want to make sure I don’t put off getting glasses until January and wind up spending a fortune because Blue Shield of California decided that eyes are no longer an insurable body part.
I mention this because my eyesight is rapidly deteriorating thanks to staring at my phone all day, and I’m currently without reading glasses as I wait for my new ones to arrive in the next 3-5 business days. I can still see the world just fine when I’m out walking around, but I have trouble reading news headlines on my phone when I first wake up. This proved problematic this morning when I rolled out of bed, logged on to Twitter and saw a ton of Carlos Correa pictures in my feed but could not read the accompanying text. And really, the Correa tweets could have been about anything! Yesterday, Correa was supposed to be introduced in San Francisco as the Giants’ franchise shortstop for the next 13 years, but the press conference was ominously canceled due to a reported “issue” with Correa’s physical examination.
Correa has dealt with back problems in the past, so this little midday nugget from Susan Slusser of the SF Chronicle raised some eyebrows:
Correa becoming a Giant was already wildly entertaining, because Dodger fans haven’t had a villain to boo that hard since Barry Bonds retired 15 years ago. Correa, as you may have heard, was involved in a sign stealing scandal with the Astros that cost the Dodgers (and potentially other teams!) a World Series championship back in 2017. And even though a lot has happened since then (a global pandemic that made electronic sign stealing seem trivial, the Dodgers winning it all in 2020, etc.) Correa is still viewed as somewhat of a wrestling heel by the general baseball populace, which made his free-agent odyssey fascinating. When he tested the waters last off-season, he couldn’t find the big deal he coveted. so he took a three-year contract with the Twins for $105 million with the ability to opt out after one year, which is exactly what he did.
There was some pearl clutching over whether fans who used to boo him and shower him with “cheater!” taunts would accept him if their team signed him to a franchise-defining deal. This was always a hilarious question, as sports fans are notorious for abandoning all morals and twisting themselves into pretzels to defend (and embrace!) players who are accused of doing far worse things than Correa ever did, if that player can help the team win. Just look at the Cleveland Browns!
Anyway, on Dec. 14, Correa and the Giants agreed on a 13-year contract for $350 million. It was a big deal, literally and figuratively, for San Francisco. Not only did the team land one of the best players on the free-agent market, but the signing also marked the first major free-agent deal the team executed in the post-Buster Posey era. The Giants won an MLB-high 107 games in 2021. Then Posey retired, and they went 81-81 in 2022. Posey wasn’t worth 36 wins on his own, of course, but I follow the Giants every day and they were unquestionably a lot worse without him.
It’s not uncommon for massive MLB deals to take a week or so to finalize, especially around Christmas. So nobody thought anything was up until the Giants sent out a terse, one-sentence email yesterday morning announcing that the press conference scheduled for later that day to introduce Correa had been canceled, with no reason given. This set off my spidey senses immediately, as the Giants are not known for being a poverty franchise that would extort a player into taking less money over a physical. And for what it’s worth, I personally view their president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi, as one of the few front office people in MLB with a conscience/soul.
Meanwhile, over in New York, the Mets’ new billionaire owner, Steve Cohen, was apparently experiencing a $300-million case of FOMO. He had already promised some $500 million in free-agent contracts in the last month, but aside from re-signing centerfielder Brandon Nimmo, most of that cash was promised to pitchers Justin Verlander, Edwin Diaz, Kodai Senga, David Robertson, Adam Ottavino and Jose Quintana. Even after spending all that money, the Mets might not have even improved their pitching staff over last year, since they lost Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker and (reportedly) Seth Lugo to free agency.
But even after shelling out that half-billion, the Mets still didn’t really do anything to improve their offense at all, which must have really rankled Cohen. How would you feel if you forked over that kind of money without feeling confident your team would improve on last year’s result, which was a second-place finish in the NL East and a first-round playoff exit?
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