The huge stars Steve Cohen could chase next after Carlos Correa miss

The huge stars Steve Cohen could chase next after Carlos Correa miss

Way back when Carlos Correa had only agreed to one megadeal — that being the Giants’ $350 million, 13-year agreement — Mets owner Steve Cohen was lamenting to The Post about missing out on Correa (the first time), and he said, “ There will always be another free agent.”

A few days later it looked like that free agent might be Correa. But alas, it was not to be. Cohen really loved what Correa brought — the glove, the personality and the extra bat, which he felt was “needed” — and he’s surely disappointed not to have acquired him following the disagreement over his physical and how to resolve that difference via contract-language changes. But there will be more opportunities, which is the beautiful thing about free agency and having a net worth that rivals some small countries.

Unfortunately, the timing here isn’t great. By the time Correa agreed to his third deal, the one that stuck — the $200M, six-year Twins agreement — the free-agent market that’s left contains no stars in their prime, much less superstars. Cohen is a big-game hunter, and it’s fun to guess who might be next. Some ideas:

Manny Machado

The Padres are expecting him to exercise his opt-out, especially after the way they and others paid top free agents this winter. He and manager Buck Showalter are tight from days together in Baltimore.

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani
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He probably shouldn’t be No. 2 on any list, but there’s some concern about whether he’d go to New York. One baseball executive said he was flat-out told Ohtani didn’t want to come here when he was first free five years ago. (His handlers say that was a long time ago and tastes change, but of course they have to hope he’d consider Cohen’s team for the sake of negotiations, which will get crazy anyway for the world’s best player.) The Dodgers seem primed for a run at Ohtani, and the bidding should get to the $500M range, at least.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

Yet another Padre has been rumored to be potential trade bait (Padres people say they aren’t shopping him). I’d say, stay away until he can prove he’s more dependent. Flashes of greatness are nice but not at this rate. His $340M deal, which coincidentally inspired Francisco Lindor’s $341M Mets deal, is heavily backloaded.

Matt Chapman

He’s a terrific defender, and like Machado as a free agent could step right in at third with Eduardo Escobar’s contract expiring after 2023. Nevertheless, his offense has lagged the past couple years.

Julio Urias

He’ll be the top pitcher on the market next year (unless you count Ohtani as a pitcher, and perhaps even then), he’s young, he’s clutch. Don’t disregard.

Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning of
Julio Urias
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Bryan Reynolds

He’s begging to be traded, and perhaps he will be. But the crosstown Yankees, the Marlins and others are more obvious fits. He’s a very good player but doesn’t carry the cachet of a Correa.

Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff

There’s no real indication either will be dealt, or that the Brewers would trade one to the Mets.

One thing folks are wondering about is why the Mets didn’t just give Correa the same $200M, six-year deal he ultimately signed with the Twins. It would seem to be a good deal after originally agreeing to $315M, and perhaps the Mets will regret not doing it, but it very likely comes down to the tax and the desire to keep the AAV (average annual salary) relatively low.

Cohen famously told me “what difference does it make” over the relatively small extra money he was spending (for him), but ultimately, there are lines for everyone, even him. Cohen is paying a 90 percent tax (the Steve Cohen tax) so that $33M is really $63M a year. Correa is really good. But is he that good?

The Twins, below the tax threshold, pay only the $33.33M salary, and no additional tax. So Cohen would have been paying double had they finalized the deal.

For those who figured Cohen has no limit, we may finally have found it.