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Carlos Correa, Giants' Top Free-Agent Targets After Aaron Judge's Yankees Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 7, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 14:   Carlos Correa #4 of the Minnesota Twins returns to the dugout in the eighth inning during the game between the Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
David Berding/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants might have missed out on Aaron Judge, but they still have plenty of chances to make this a consequential offseason.

Judge is returning to the New York Yankees after agreeing to a nine-year, $360 million contract, per multiple reports.

After failing to reel in the biggest fish on the market, the Giants seem poised to look toward one of the best shortstops available.

Alex Pavlovic @PavlovicNBCS

The next step for the Giants is to dive into the shortstop market, with Carlos Correa at the top of their list. They've pushed hard for another starting pitcher in recent days and still want one more outfielder.

Pete Abraham @PeteAbe

The dominos will start toppling now that Judge had made his decision. Giants will pivot to the shortstop market and cause action there. Red Sox have slow-played their hand on Bogaerts so far. Will ownership now step up? No doors have closed.

Trea Turner is off the board after reportedly agreeing to an 11-year, $300 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, but that still leaves Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson.

Correa is not only the best of the three, but he would also carry the most symbolism for San Francisco.

The Giants targeted Bryce Harper before he landed in Philadelphia. They were linked last offseason with Marcus Semien, who signed with the Texas Rangers. If they're unable to seal the deal with both Judge and Correa, then it would further the perception the franchise simply isn't a marquee destination for free agents.

Losing out on Judge stings, but adding a two-time All-Star who hit 22 home runs with a .291/.366/.467 slash line in 2022 would be a great consolation prize.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, has been one of the most consistent shortstops in baseball over the last few years. Since 2018, he has an .880 OPS and a 133 OPS+, per Baseball Reference. His 22.4 WAR over that span also ranks fourth at the position on FanGraphs.

San Francisco agreed to a three-year, $43.5 million deal with Mitch Haniger, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. Assuming the front office is still looking for another outfielder, it could look toward Andrew Benintendi or Brandon Nimmo.

Benintendi set career highs in batting average (.304) and on-base percentage (.373) in 2022, explaining to The Athletic's Eno Sarris and Zach Buchanan how he changed his approach at the plate.

"My approach right now is realizing I’m not going to hit 35 homers," he said. "It’s getting on base, be a tough out, see pitches, use the whole field. This year, it’s finally come together."

Nimmo would offer more power—16 homers in 2022 and a .441 career slugging percentage—but he has made 100-plus appearances just twice since becoming a full-time regular in 2017.

Benintendi might be the safer of the two options, albeit with a lower ceiling.

Looking to the pitching staff, the Giants need to replace their ace, with NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reporting they "do not expect" to re-sign Carlos Rodón.

Although Rodón remains unsigned, the starter market is quickly drying up. Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Bassitt are two of the best still available, and neither projects as a true No. 1 option. Corey Kluber, likewise, bounced back nicely in 2021 and 2022 but will be 37 in April.

Noah Syndergaard is a bit of a buyer beware signing, too. The 2016 All-Star had a 3.94 ERA with the Phillies and Los Angeles Angels but averaged just 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery.

Sean Manaea would give the Giants another lefty in the rotation, and you can reasonably assume his 4.96 ERA in 2022—a full run higher than his ERA in six years with the Oakland Athletics (3.86) was a bit of an outlier.

Whatever happens with the Giants from here, one thing is clear from their pursuit of Judge: Ownership gave the front office the green light to spend.