Correa is a Met, and risk management is for every other team

Nothing prevents a team from signing a player with a medical problem. Nothing stops Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets.

The two got together at midnight. The San Francisco Giants held a press conference Tuesday morning to welcome Carlos Correa. On Wednesday morning, after the Giants hesitated following Correa’s physical, Cohen swooped in and took Correa to the Mets.

The phrase “agreement pending physical examination” does not mean that a deal is automatically busted if a player fails the examination. What happened overnight simply means that Cohen was willing to take a risk the Giants and their owners were not.

In this era of evolving analytics and skyrocketing salaries, it’s not just mere dollars that make Cohen an outlier among baseball owners. Interestingly, it’s a guy who made his fortune in hedge funds and decided that spending and profits were a higher priority than risk management.

In a statement Wednesday, Giants president Farhan Zaidi said, “There was disagreement over the results of Carlos’ physical exam.” Zaidi did not elaborate.

In 2016, Zaidi was the Dodgers’ general manager when they signed pitcher Kenta Maeda, despite medical records Maeda and team officials acknowledged showed “irregularities.” Maeda and the Dodgers agreed on a contract that minimizes the team’s risk in the event of a serious injury, but rewards him well if he stays healthy and able to perform.

The contract ran for eight years with a guaranteed salary of $3 million per year. The total guarantee was $25 million, with incentives that could increase the value of the deal to over $100 million. In his freshman year with the Dodgers, Maeda led the team in innings and turned a $3 million guarantee into $12 million in commission.

He made $33 million in four years with the Dodgers before being traded to the Minnesota Twins. He was operated on by Tommy John last year.

In 2006, the Dodgers signed pitcher Jason Schmidt to three years and $47 million, despite knowing he had a torn rotator cuff. He won three games in those three years, largely because he required surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.

The Dodgers sued the company that insured Schmidt’s contract, claiming it failed to pay $9 million in claims. The company said rotator cuff problems were an agreed pre-existing condition, citing medical records that the rotator cuff was also repaired during the surgery, although the Dodgers said the torn labrum was the reason for the surgery and intrinsically disqualified Schmidt would have competed.

The Dodgers and the insurance company reached an agreement, court filings show. The terms were not disclosed.

Scott Boras, Correa’s agent, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Giants indicated they wanted to continue talks after the medical issue surfaced, but said he “never heard from them after that.” He didn’t have to re-engage the Giants, not with a $315 million offer from Cohen.

Perhaps the Mets’ physical exam will also become an issue. Maybe not. Cohen might not care.

Perhaps the Mets will have a hard time insuring Correa’s contract. Maybe not. Cohen might not care.

The Mets weren’t without risks after landing on Correa either. Justin Verlander turns 40 next year, and Max Scherzer 39. The Mets postseason lasted three games this year and may not last next year if Father Time catches up with the Aces.

But in a winter when Cohen is spending more than $800 million on free agents, a red flag is no reason to slow down. Correa is a Met, and risk management is for every other team

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