The Minnesota Twins treated their fans to a surprise on Saturday morning when they signed Carlos Correa. But there was still some skepticism when Mark Berman and Jeff Passan rode through the virtual streets of Twins Territory screaming, “CORREA IS COMING!”
Many experts considered Correa the top player in this year’s free-agent class. He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, and he’s a two-time All-Star. Correa won his first Gold Glove Award and finished fifth in MVP voting last season. Oh, and he’s a 27-year-old shortstop entering the prime of his career.
There had to be a catch.
It turns out that Correa’s three-year, $105.3 million contract featured opt-outs for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. Twins fans can hope that their best version of “Minnesota Nice” can entice him to play out the deal. But it’s more likely that he’ll opt-out the first chance he gets to maximize his value and cash in next winter.
Thus, Correa’s stay in Minnesota might only be for one season. But even the most pessimistic Twins fan has to admit this is a move that could pay off.
The Twins made a similar move in 1991 when they signed Jack Morris. After 14 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the St. Paul native wanted to play for his hometown team. But even he admitted it was a business decision.
“I’ve wanted to play in Minnesota since I was a kid,” Morris told the Detroit Free Press at the time. “This isn’t about money. The Tigers offered me a lot of money. Free agent means free agent, and I was looking to better myself.”
The contract was a one-year, $7 million deal, but the Twins added were two player option years at the end of it. No amount of Minnesota pride would entice Morris to stay after what happened next.
Morris found his early-career form at age 35. He made his fourth career All-Star appearance, finished fourth in Cy Young and 13th in MVP voting. His performance led the Twins to the American League West title and eventually the World Series. In Game 7, he tossed a 10-inning shutout against the Atlanta Braves to give Minnesota its second championship in five seasons.
Did Morris use the Twins to enhance his value? Absolutely. Is there a reason for Twins fans to be upset? Absolutely not.
Morris took Twins fans on an incredible ride. By serving as the ace, he took a team that finished in last place of the division to a World Series championship. Even if he was pitching for Toronto, Twins fans still have the memory of one of the greatest pitching performances of all time.
And it’s the same formula that Correa can use to become a baseball god in Minnesota.
The Twins are staring at a golden opportunity with Correa. The American League Central is a two-team race with the Chicago White Sox. With a lineup that can rake with anyone, the Twins can make their way toward a division title. But that’s not all they might have.
The best thing about the Correa signing is that nobody is off-limits. If the Twins need an elite arm, they can trade prospects for Frankie Montas. If the Twins need bullpen help, they can trade for it at the deadline. Whatever they need, the front office is going to get it.
Why? Because these aren’t your dad’s Twins. These are the all-in Twins.
Even if they can’t overtake the White Sox, the addition of a sixth playoff team makes it likely the Twins will be playing in October. That’s where Correa pays off.
Correa is hitting .272/.344/.505 in 79 career postseason games. His 18 career home runs rank seventh all-time, and his 59 career RBI ranks sixth. Most importantly, Correa has experienced 45 career postseason victories since 2015. He also won a World Series championship – the one thing the Twins have been seeking since Morris fist-pumped off the mound during that fateful Game 7.
Having a player with Correa’s postseason production would be a boost for any team. Adding him to a franchise that has lost 18 consecutive playoff games – the longest in the history of men’s major North American sports – makes him look like a baseball god.
There’s a good chance that Correa could leave after this season. There’s a better chance he’ll get a lot more money. But if Correa goes full Eddie Rosario this October, there could be a banner flying at Target Field.
That’s well worth the investment. Even for just one season.