The long free-agent saga of MLB shortstop Carlos Correa may be over now, and in the wake of all this hubbub, we have to ask if Correa is really worth all the fuss. First, there is the issue of how much the Houston Astros cheating scandal built his reputation in the first place, and there is also the question of how good he’s going to be going forward considering the mild decline in his bat since the scandal was exposed. After all, there’s a lot of mileage already on that body and mind.

Let’s start with the first issue: Correa’s OPS marks through 2019 were impressive for someone so young. Starting from 2015 through 2019, his numbers were as follows—.857 in 2015, .811 in 2016, .941 in 2017, .728 in 2018, and .926 in 2019. The last three seasons were partial ones for Correa, as he played in just 294 games combined during those years. Posting an .857 OPS at age 20 helped him win the AL Rookie of the Year Award, an honor we confirmed previously.

Now, look at the OPS marks after the scandal was exposed (2020, 2021, 2022): As Correa got more experience, you’d think his numbers would rise. But they did not—.709 in 2020, .850 in 2021, and .834 in 2022. Overall, Correa’s OPS has declined 24 points since the cheating scandal was exposed, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but considering he should have been getting better with experience and maturity in those three seasons since, it’s a downward trend that should not be happening for an “elite” player.

Still, Correa will be just 28 years old in 2023, and that should be right in his prime wheelhouse (ages 27-31). The fact his numbers have declined to start his prime is concerning, especially in light of the cheating scandal he was a part of in his early career (2017-2019). Those two OPS numbers from 2017 and 2019 now look like anomalies, and the numbers from 2021 and 2022 now look like what a team should expect, maximum, from Correa for the next few seasons while he moves through in his prime seasons.

His defense shows consistency, however, with a total of 12.6 dWAR so far in 8 seasons. His lowest mark (1.0 dWAR) came in the shortened 2020 season, and his highest mark (2.9 dWAR) is clearly an anomaly, a full win higher than his next-best season. So, overall, the Minnesota Twins now can probably expect an .825 OPS and a 1.5 dWAR from Correa over the next four years. That seems fair. Now the question remains … how much is that kind of player worth?

If the Twins complete his six-year, $200M deal, they’re paying $33.3M a year for a “good” player—but Correa is not an elite shortstop with those projected numbers above. Sure, it’s common for teams to overpay when it comes to coveted free agents, especially ones represented by agent Scott Boras. But at the most, Correa is trending forward for the next four years, the last years of his prime, at more of a $15M/year range, in truth … maybe $20M/year, max.

The good news for Minnesota is that it’s just a six-year deal. Remember how the San Francisco Giants originally agreed to a 13-year deal for Correa? That would have been an albatross around the Giants’ neck after 2027 or so. The last eight years of that deal would have been painful. Even the New York Mets escaped some hell when their 12-year deal with Correa also fell through. The fact Correa is ending up with just a six-year deal is smart for the Twins—and should make us all realize how insane this sport is.