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‘I don’t get the Mets,’ says Scott Boras of the Carlos Correa saga – Nightengale’s Notebook

Scott Boras walked off the plane at the Santa Ana (Calif.) Airport at 9:41 p.m. Wednesday night, still tired from spending the day in Minneapolis, with the Carlos Correa saga coming to a merciful end at Target Field.

Boras approached the baggage claim, saw the silver Rimowa suitcase come down the conveyer belt, grabbed it, walked to his car, and was about to pull up to his house when his phone rang.

“This is American Airlines, Mr. Boras,” the person said. “Your bag is right here.”

“No, I have my bag right here,” Boras says.

Boras reached for his suitcase, perplexed.

Uh oh.

He had picked up someone else’s luggage that looked exactly like his.

Boras returned to the airport, exchanged suitcases, drove back home, collapsed in his bed, and passed out.

When you negotiate $865 million in contracts for Correa alone over a 28-day period, endure two failed physicals and a cancelled press conference before landing a six-year, $200 million guarantee from the Minnesota Twins, who can blame a fella for a hiccup?

Boras was back at work at 5:30 a.m. the next day, checking e-mails, making calls, and spending 212 hours on the phone with USA TODAY Sports, discussing one of his career’s wildest winters, which resulted in $1.1 billion in free-agent contracts.

“It’s been quite the ride, to say the least,” Boras says.

While pleased with the winter results, Boras is still irritated that one doctor’s opinion can reduce Correa’s 13-year, $350 million contract with the San Francisco Giants to a 12-year, $315 million contract with the New York Mets to a six-year, $200 million contract with the Twins.

Only after consulting with orthopaedic specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, who expressed concerns about the fragility of Correa’s right ankle, which required surgery in 2014, did the Giants’ deal fall through. The deal was called off by Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. Boras summoned Correa to his hotel room to deliver the news, leaving Correa speechless.

Boras retired to his room and was on the phone with Mets owner Steve Cohen within an hour. They had a deal 15 hours later. Correa and his family, who had even spent the day before the scheduled press conference house-hunting in San Francisco, tackled Boras in his room with glee. The Correas flew home to Houston before taking Cohen’s private plane to New York for a physical to make it official.

Correa had his physical, and the Mets baulked two days later. Yes, they had consulted with Anderson, who advised against a long-term contract, which enraged Boras.

“I don’t get the Mets,” Boras admitted. “I provided them with all of the information. We had them consult with four doctors. They were aware of the Giants’ problem. Despite this, they continue to consult with the same doctor who advised the Giants. There was no new information to report. So why bother negotiating a contract if you’re going to use the same doctor?

“It was different with the Giants because they were unaware of a doctor’s opinion. However, the Mets were aware of this. They were aware of the Giants’ viewpoint. So why did you negotiate when you knew this was coming?”

The Giants never negotiated with Boras again, but the Mets still wanted to work out a revised deal, with Boras and Correa still confident they could reach an agreement.

Boras proposed contract language that would safeguard the Mets. The Mets could reduce Correa’s contract if his previous right ankle injury caused him to miss more than 60 days. They could void his contract if he spent more than 120 days on the injured list in a two-year period. If he spent the entire season on the injured list, the Mets would have the right to have him examined to see if they wanted to part ways.

Instead, the Mets wanted to cut their original contract in half. The Mets would guarantee him $157.5 million over the first six years, with club options for the following six years worth another $157.5 million. However, it would also necessitate Correa undergoing a full physical after each season in which the Mets could terminate the remaining six years of his contract.

“I told the Mets lawyers, ‘You’re now putting the contract in jeopardy,'” Boras said. “I have to cover your risk by deferring. You can’t have it all. You can’t defer the contract, save $100 million in CBT taxes, and have him take all of the risk in the contract that isn’t guaranteed.”

Boras and Correa realised after two weeks that the Mets were not going to budge. Even if the Mets exercised his first two club option years at $26.5 million per year, the backloaded contract would pay him $210 million over the first eight years, retaining his annual average salary at $26.5 million.

Throughout the process, Derek Falvey, Twins executive vice president and chief baseball officer, kept in touch with Boras. He realised that the longer the impasse lasted, the more likely it was that the Twins would re-engage in negotiations.

Correa’s final offer from the Twins before signing with the Giants was a 10-year, $280 million contract (rather than the widely reported $285 million). They resumed negotiations the weekend of January 6-8, and this time they had leverage.

They began intensive negotiations on Monday, Jan. 9, and reached an agreement at 8 p.m. for a six-year, $200 million contract. The contract, which has four club options, could become a 10-year, $270 million deal if the Twins exercise the option years, or it could become automatically vested if Correa stays healthy and finishes in the top five of the MVP race, wins a Silver Slugger, or wins the World Series or ALCS MVP award. Correa’s six-year contract guarantees him an average salary of $33.34 million, the second-highest for a shortstop.

Correa will earn $42.5 million more in the first six years of his contract with the Twins than he would have if he had accepted the Mets’ offer. Even if the contract was extended to eight years, the Twins would still be paying the Mets $35 million more. The Mets’ salary advantage would not have begun until 2031, when the Twins will pay Correa $15 million in 2031 and $10 million in 2032. The Mets were paying $115 million in club options for the final four years.

“I think this is a better deal for him because of the contract structure,” Boras said. “The possibility of playing 12 years [without injury] was unanticipated. Unless he had solid guarantee language, it wasn’t a good deal. Because of the likelihood, this contract is preferable. There is a lot more present value.”

And, by the way, there are no opt-outs throughout the contract.

“Look,” Boras said, laughing, “we never want to go through this again.”

Boras was confident Correa would pass the Twins’ physical because he had three exams from their doctors last year. They wouldn’t have sent a private plane to pick up Correa’s extended family from Houston, put everyone up at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Minneapolis, and taken everyone out to a five-hour dinner at the 112 Eatery on Tuesday night.

Still, it wasn’t until Wednesday morning, when the Twins called to tell Boras the deal was finalised, that he could finally exhale.

“It felt like a 100-pound weight had been lifted from my shoulders,” Boras said. “I called Carlos without even saying hello. I only said, ‘It’s done.'”

Correa’s response: “Fantastic.”

“There was finally, finality when Carlos put that uniform on at the press conference,” Boras said. It was genuine.”

The saga had come to an end.

“This was so difficult emotionally because you’re sitting in front of a player, his wife, his parents, her parents, and you have to share disappointment, not once, but twice,” Boras explained. Carlos and his family were under a lot of stress.

“However, seeing how happy he was and how excited the Twins are, perhaps this was the way it was meant to be all along.”

While the Correa theatre dominated the news, Boras had 13 free-agent players sign major-league contracts worth $1.1 billion. It’s the third time Boras and his team of 30 researchers, eight trainers, six negotiators, five lawyers, and two medical review members have closed more than $1 billion in a single off-season.

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