Carlos Correa Contract: Where in the World Did the Twins Come From?

The Minnesota Twins‘ decision to trade away Josh Donaldson’s remaining $50 million suddenly makes more sense after the team reportedly pulled a stunner to land top MLB free agent Carlos Correa. That’s about the extent of the sensibilities and logic when it comes to how this all went down.

How in the world did all this happen?

A 27-year-old shortstop with elite-level defensive talent and a prolific bat, Correa had an opportunity to possibly reset the market in free agency. He also figured to attract offers from big-market franchises.

For some time, it appeared as though Correa’s path would ultimately lead him to sign a short-term deal with his incumbent franchise, the Houston Astros. Instead, the Twins swooped in with one of the biggest free-agent shockers in years.

Carlos Correa has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $105.3 million contract with the Twins

Love him or hate him, Correa is a star of gargantuan proportions.

The Puerto Rico native has exceptional physical tools. He has the size and length to cover a ton of ground at shortstop, with terrific instincts and an absolute laser for an arm. Correa also has a strong hit tool with excellent power to all fields. He very likely has yet to even touch his ceiling.

Any team would surely love to have a player like that, especially at a premium position. It’s just absolutely astonishing that the Twins reportedly made this happen.

Mark Berman of Fox 26 KRIV in Houston reported in the wee hours of Saturday morning that Correa had reportedly signed a three-year, $105.3 million deal with Minnesota. The $35.1 million annual average value (AAV) is the highest in MLB history for an infielder. More notably, Correa has opt-outs after each of the first two seasons, meaning he can reenter the market and sign a longer, more lucrative deal if he has a monster season.

The general assumption was that Correa would land with a big-market franchise. Even after the New York Yankees gradually priced their way out of proceedings, it seemed probable that Correa could end up back in Houston or perhaps on the North Side of Chicago with the Cubs.

Instead, the Twins made an enormous splash. Perhaps it’s fitting, because the nature of their offseason has been impossible to pin down.

Breaking down the Twins’ wild offseason

Carlos Correa reacts during Game 5 of the 2021 World Series
Carlos Correa reacts after hitting a single against the Atlanta Braves during Game 5 of the World Series October 31, 2021 | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Twins were arguably the biggest disappointments of the 2021 MLB season after stumbling to 73 wins. They punted at the trade deadline, shipping off top starter Jose Berrios and slugger Nelson Cruz.

It appeared as though the Twins were rightfully preparing for a rebuild. Instead, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey went for it all this offseason.

Minnesota signed center fielder and oft-injured star Byron Buxton to a seven-year, $100 million contract extension. The Twins also signed right-hander Dylan Bundy. All hell really broke loose after the lockout.

Falvey traded catcher Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers for defensive wizard Isiah Kiner-Falefa, only to flip IKF as part of the Donaldson deal with the Yankees. That trade netted Minnesota polarizing catcher Gary Sanchez and veteran third baseman Gio Urshela. Shortly thereafter, the Twins took advantage of the Cincinnati Reds’ teardown by acquiring right-hander Sonny Gray.

Minnesota put a bow on things by signing Carlos Correa to a contract that rocked baseball, immediately solidifying the franchise’s intentions to win now. Can the Twins get back into contention?

Will the win-now moves pay off for Minnesota?

The Twins have seemingly sent a message to the defending American League Central Divison champion Chicago White Sox. But they still have a lot of question marks.

With Correa in the fold, Minnesota has legitimate boppers. Miguel Sano has 30-homer pop. Max Kepler will look to bounce back from a poor season. The Twins likely hope that youngsters like Alex Kirilloff can fulfill their potential. When healthy, Buxton and Correa are as talented as any other duo in baseball.

Still, Minnesota’s plentiful offseason could go to waste if it doesn’t add more pitching.

As things currently stand, Gray is essentially the No. 1 in the rotation. Kenta Maeda is coming off the worst season of his career, and Bundy had a 6.06 ERA in a contract year this past season. The bullpen also lacks arms with demonstrable success outside of left-hander Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey, and walks were a real issue for that group in 2021.

The Twins have rising arm talent in the form of top prospects Jordan Balazovic, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Jhoan Duran, with Balazovic likely arriving to the bigs in the near future. But they cannot necessarily rely on young arms if they hope to snatch the crown from the White Sox.

Maybe Falvey can follow his blockbuster signing with another big move. Perhaps the Twins can make a play for Oakland Athletics trade chips Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea.

The Carlos Correa contract could prove almost worthless should Minnesota falter and the superstar shortstop ultimately opt-out after the first season. But given everything they’ve already done this offseason, the Twins might not be done yet as they hope to play October baseball in 2022.

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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