In November of 2019, a report from The Athletic provided details on an elaborate sign-stealing scheme implemented by the Houston Astros. Multiple sources from throughout the Astros organization admitted to using the scheme during home games.
A camera would be set up in the outfield and would provide a direct feed to a television screen just steps from the Astros dugout. After decoding signs using the camera feed, those in the Astros dugout would bang trash cans to signal hitters when off-speed and breaking-ball pitches were heading their way.
Sign stealing has played a part in baseball since the inception of the sport, but using electronics to do so has always been thought of as faux pas.
While it is unknown how long the sign-stealing scheme lasted, it is universally accepted -- and admitted to by Astros players -- that it occurred during the 2017 season. The Astros won their first, and to this date only, World Series in franchise history that season.
Numerous Astros players stepped in front of cameras to apologize after The Athletic's report surfaced. Carlos Correa was arguably the most vocal of the Astros players:
"You don't want to be remembered as that type of person," Correa said. "What we did was really wrong. It's not going to happen again...You want to earn your way to success, not cheat your way to success."
It sounded like Correa was admitting the 2017 Astros cheated their way to the World Series. But the Astros shortstop certainly made it clear in future interviews that the team still deserved its 2017 championship.
"When I analyze all the games, we earned that championship. We didn’t steal it," Correa said in a nearly 20-minute interview with Ken Rosenthal. "When you analyze the games, we won fair and square. We earned that championship."
And while most Astros players remained quiet after the apologies, Correa took an outspoken, defensive stance when responding to criticism from other MLB players. He even told Cody Bellinger to "shut the fuck up" when the Dodgers' outfielder said Astros' second baseman Jose Altuve "stole" the 2017 American League MVP award.
Many Astros players and coaches will remain villains and forever be booed by opposing crowds. But actions like the ones outlined above will put Correa in a different class of villain.
Correa is arguably going to be the most sought-after free agent this offseason. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said the Cubs "have the resources to compete in 2022 and beyond". It then begs the following questions: Should the Cubs be in on Carlos Correa? And would Cubs fans welcome the controversial figure to the Friendly Confines?
The Answer For This Fan: A Resounding Yes
Yes, Carlos Correa cheated. There is no getting around that. He certainly is the one Astros player that rubs many the wrong way due to how he handled the deserved criticism he and his teammates received.
But, assuming the Astros and Correa have stopped cheating, he deserves a second chance. And I would love for that chance to be at Clark & Addison this summer.
Correa made some headlines when he commented on Wrigley Field before the playoffs. He spoke of his pre-draft workout there and how he thought how great it would be to play at the Friendly Confines every day.
So why would I welcome Correa with open arms to the Cubs? Correa makes the Cubs a better team. Plain and simple.
Even if you take away his imbalanced road splits in 2017, he still is a career .274 hitter that just posted a career-high 7.3 WAR in 2021.
He also gets on base at a strong clip with a .356 career OBP, including a .366 mark in 2021. His career strikeout rate (20.5%) is also lower than the MLB average over that span (22%). Correa struck out a career-low 18.1% of the time in 2021 while walking in a career-high 11.1% of his at-bats. For perspective, Javier Baez has a 29.3% strikeout rate.
There is no denying Carlos Correa cheated in 2017. The court of public opinion will always put an asterisk next to that World Series and the players who won it.
And yes, Correa handled the flak poorly at times. He should have taken all criticism on the chin. Even when defending his teammates, he should have been more understanding of the anger from other players.
But I'm a Cubs fan. I want to see the Cubs succeed on the field. From all accounts, Carlos Correa is not an inherently bad human being. He has simply made some mistakes. I can overlook all that if he pulls on the blue pinstripes, gives his all for the ballclub and the fans, and contributes toward winning baseball on the North Side.