The Opener: Correa, SP Market, Rangers

After an unsurprisingly quiet holiday weekend, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on as the hot stove turns back on around baseball today:

1. What will happen with the Correa-Mets deal followed renewed medical concerns?

News came out over the weekend revealing that the Mets had flagged a right ankle issue in their physical examination of Carlos Correa, which was the final step before the sides finalized a 12-year, $315MM pact. The issue is reportedly the same one that gave the Giants enough pause that their 13-year, $350MM agreement with Correa fell apart, which is what allowed the Mets to land Correa in the first place. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that a deal is still expected to get done, noting that other teams have checked in on Correa over the weekend, but the sides are still committed to working things out. Heyman suggests that language in the contract may be revised to accommodate New York’s concerns, as it was when the Red Sox had post-physical medical concerns while finalizing JD Martinez‘s 5-year deal with the club before the 2018 season.

2. Are the last starters going to start coming off the board?

Reports about three of the top starting pitching targets left on the free agent market surfaced over the weekend, with Nathan Eovaldi being connected to the Padres, Angels, and an AL East mystery team, with the Angels also linked to Corey Kluber and the Padres also linked to Johnny Cueto. Both teams certainly make sense as landing spots for any of the aforementioned free agent starters; the Angels have solid options for five slots in their rotation, but have typically gone with a six-man rotation to accommodate their unicorn superstar Shohei Ohtani. The Padres, meanwhile, have a relatively thin rotation even after adding Seth Lugo, especially when compared to their incredibly deep lineup and strong bullpen. One factor that could mix up the starting pitching market, however, is the sudden willingness of the Red Sox to listen to offers on oft-injured ace Chris Sale. Sale was previously among the very best starters in the game, making trips to the All Star game and receiving Cy Young votes in seven straight seasons from 2012-2018. An array of injuries have largely kept Sale off the field from 2020-2022, however, with less than 50 innings pitched in that time. Sale surely offers more tantalizing upside than any other starter available, but if his injury woes continue, an acquiring club could be left on the hook for his hefty salary without much production to show for it.

3. Will the Rangers manage to add the bat they need?

The Rangers were reportedly a finalist for the services of Michael Conforto before he landed in San Francisco on a two-year deal. This leaves Texas in a place they’ve been all offseason: in desperate need of outfield help. Leody Taveras and Adolis Garcia look like they can handle the lion’s share of starts in center field and right field, respectively, headed into the 2023 season. That still leaves left field as largely vacant, however, with Josh Smith and Brad Miller among a list of internal options who do not inspire confidence. Outside of a long shot trade for a big bat like Bryan Reynolds, the club seems likely to add a bat from free agency. The pickings at the position are slim at this point, though, with Jurickson Profar and Trey Mancini looking to be the only clear everyday players left available. Failing the addition of one of those two players, the Rangers could add multiple players in order to mix and match between left and DH, where Mitch Garver primarily played in 2022. Options for such a venture include Rafael Ortega, David Peralta, AJ Pollockand Andrew McCutchen.

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