Finally, the Twins’ worst fears came true, as the Giants decided to blow them out of the water, offering Carlos Correa a massive 13-year, $350 million contract, which the superstar shortstop received Tuesday night.
So much for that.
It is the fourth largest contract in baseball history, trailing only Mike Trout ($426.5 million), Mookie Betts ($365 million) and Aaron Judge ($360 million). Correa topped Francisco Lindor ($341 million), Fernando Tatis Jr. ($340 million), Corey Seager ($325 million) and Trey Turner ($300 million) on short-term max contracts.
San Francisco flexed its muscles and pushed Minnesota aside to land the next best free agent in the class after being denied by a judge next week.
Correa has done exactly what the Twins hoped he would do last spring when they signed him to a three-year, $105.3 million contract with options after the first and second years. He was one of MLB’s best shortstops, hitting .291/.366/.467 in 136 games to lead the position in OPS. So he entered free agency again at the age of 28 in search of the mega contract he didn’t get last offseason.
The Twins hope Correa will spend the next seven months together on and off the field. , large market groups. In the end, his feelings about Minnesota didn’t matter because the Twins weren’t particularly close to a top offer.
The athleticsDan Hayes reported that the Twins’ final offer was 10 years and $285 million, making it the largest contract in franchise history by $100 million. It was a huge, historic, franchise turnaround from the Twins’ perspective. But from Correa’s perspective, that was still three years and $65 million short of the Giants’ proposal.
Carlos Correa officially dons a Twins uniform for the first time. pic.twitter.com/FsOwRZWcm1
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) March 23, 2022
All things being equal, Correa probably would have stayed with the twins, but all things being equal, we’ll never know. Not even close, actually. No one should blame Correa for taking the best offer, from a far more successful team, in a bigger market. As disappointing as it is for Twins fans, it’s certainly surprising.
It’s also hard for the Twins not to beat the Giants’ offer, which would probably have paid Correa around $30 million per season in the 40s. Maintaining a mid-sized payroll, as the Twins have done in recent years, would be extremely challenging, and the team’s ownership has not offered plans to push spending above the league average.
However, the Twins offered a slightly higher average salary ($28.5 million) than the Giants ($27 million), but it’s notable that they were willing to commit to 10 seasons and not 13. And it makes sense to do so with an offer that expires at Correa’s age-37 season. But is losing it really that big of a difference?
What will the sport look like in 13 years? How high can league revenue and payroll go? And where does $28.5 million fit in a big salary? Furthermore, the likelihood of any front office being in place ten years from now is slim to none. Derek Falvey and Co. pressure to bring Correa back at any cost and end of the deal may be someone else’s problem.
With both the Pohlad family and the baseball operations department driving it, the Twins were on track for $28.5 million per season through 2032, but in 2016 Hit the brakes before 2033, 2034 and 2035. Depending on your perspective, that’s commendable fiscal responsibility or focused on a distant future where this front office doesn’t exist.
Much was made of Correa’s inability to land a long-term contract like he would have liked last season, resulting in him replacing his agent with Scott Boras during the lockout and falling into the Twins’ lap in the middle of spring training. In retrospect, Correa boosted his earnings with a brief stint in Minnesota between Houston and San Francisco, totaling $385.1 million over 14 years.
If that sum were $385.1 million for one contract, it would be the second largest, rather than the fourth largest at $350 million. As recently as nine months ago, fans were truly and justifiably disappointed that the Twins didn’t land one of the most expensive deals of all time, but it seemed like an absurd idea, but Correa’s arrival changed the idea of what was possible. But only so much.
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) June 28, 2022
Now the twins need to get back together, and fast.
If the plan is to head to another star free agent, the two remaining options are Dansby Swanson and Carlos Rodon, both of whom have been linked to the Twins. Swanson is a 28-year-old shortstop available for half the price. Rodon has more upside as a No. 1 starter, but he could cost $200 million, and this front office paid more than $20 million for the pitcher.
Shouting over Swanson and Rodon leaves the Twins in a tough spot. They spend a lot of money and land their best players from the 78-84 team but no star-caliber free agents to spend. You can pursue top unsigned secondary free agents like right-hander Nathan Eovaldi or big veteran bats like Justin Turner, JD Martinez or Michael Brantley.
Short of that, any major acquisitions the Twins make will have to come via trade, which could cost them expensive big leaguers by losing top prospects from back-to-back seasons and/or the farm system. Skill at the trade deadline. Treading water isn’t enough, and now even that requires replacing Corian’s star-level product just to stay afloat.
At the start of the season, my assessment of the Twins’ major interests was, in order: rookie shortstop, front-line pitcher, rookie-level catcher, right-handed hitter in the outfield, and setup guy. They have only fully addressed one of the five areas, signing catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $30 million deal Monday while waiting for Correa to make his decision.
Kyle Farmer, acquired from the Reds last month, is a placeholder shortstop until Royce Lewis is ready around midseason. But the Twins didn’t add any buzz or other outfield options with Kyle Garrick. With Correa’s exit and the trade that sent Gio Ursella to the Angels for minor league prospects, the Twins have lost talent since the season ended.
To move forward in a meaningful way, the Twins will need to add significant talent in several critical areas, which will require a willingness to take on some very creative moves and in-house business moves — Corbin Burns? Zach Gallen? Pablo Lopez? Brandon Woodruff? Willie Adams? – This can be as painful and risky as signing a great player on the open market.
The twins may decide that going back in time to 2024 is the worst way to go, but going back from what, exactly? In six seasons under Falvey, the Twins are 451-419 overall, equating to an 84-78 record in 162 games, with zero playoff wins. They didn’t build enough to tear it down and build it up, and that could break the fan’s already shaky morale.
It would make sense for a rebuilding team to acquire incoming free agents Kenta Mada, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle, as would Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and possibly Luis Arez. But that’s a much sharper swing than making a $285 million stretch to Correa, and it also makes spending $30 million on Vázquez seem like an immediate misstep. Pushing forward is imperative.
They made a legitimate run at Correa, and saw most of their quality free agent options go off the board before the auction. There are three options left: either sign Swanson or Rodon for big money, or pay the price by trading for a star in the form of players. Re-signing Correa was always unlikely, so the Twins must have fallout plans. Now let’s see if you can pick them up.
(Photo of Derek Falvey and Carlos Correa: Brace Hemelgarn/Getty Images)