Carlos Correa’s statement last week that Yankees legend Derek Jeter “did not deserve” any of his five Gold Gloves wouldn’t be as controversial if Correa wasn’t one of the hottest free agents on the market this offseason and would solve the Yankees’ current shortstop problems. Goodness knows, he isn’t the only person who has said such a thing.
Correa, 27, won a Rawlings Platinum Glove this year as the best fielder, regardless of position, in the American League. He also collected a Gold Glove (his first). He racked up 21 defensive runs saved, most in MLB among shortstops and seven more than runner-up Andrelton Simmons. He’s no slouch in the field.
FREE-AGENCY TRACKER: Latest deals, rumors on top names
In fact, DRS was a large part of Correa’s seeming diss of Jeter on an episode of “Me Gustan Los Deportes” (“I Like Sports”), a Facebook Live show hosted by former MLB star Carlos Baerga. Correa used Jeter’s career numbers to illustrate the point that evaluation of defense has changed over the years because of the rise of advanced stats such as DRS.
“Derek Jeter. How many Gold Gloves did he win? Five. I think he won five. Derek Jeter did not deserve any of them,” Correa, who has been an admirer of Jeter’s, said in Spanish. “You know how much Derek Jeter’s [DRS was] in his career? Negative 160 [actually, negative 162, per Fangraphs]. In his career. But your eyes can lie to you. Your eyes can lie to you. His fame . . .”
Heard in isolation, that snippet was a shot at “The Captain.” And it came out during a period when the Yankees can bid on Correa, who reportedly turned down an offer recently of five years and $160 million from his old club, the Astros.
Jeter’s fame served him well over his two decades with the Bronx Bombers, but it’s not why AL managers and coaches voted him a Gold Glove winner in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 when he was roaring through his 30s. (Critics might say his jump throws and solid hitting were why.) He had one positive DRS figure his entire career, a plus-3 in 2009. Sabermetrics didn’t help to decide fielding awards then, however; the eye test was still king.
Jeter passed the test. Correa noted that the eyes can lie.
Jeter’s enduring popularity led some Yankees fans to rush to his defense Monday against Correa, who is a sworn enemy in parts of New York because he played for the cheating Astros in 2017, when they beat the Yankees in the ALCS.
But other fans — and, most importantly, Yankees management — know that Correa would be a massive upgrade over Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade or any other internal candidate. Yankees shortstops tied for 25th in the majors this year with minus-14 DRS. Adding a top-notch player at the position is an offseason priority.
And Correa is top-notch. He heads a loaded free-agent shortstop class that also includes Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Marcus Semien and Trevor Story. The Yankees won’t reject him because of a quote that may have been taken out of context. They would be glad to have him play Jeter’s position — and very happy if he plays it better than Jeter did.
Simon Borg contributed to this report.