Twins

The Twins Have A Good Problem On Their Hands With Correa and Lewis

Photo Credit: Kim Klement (USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Twins have received great contributions from their prospects through the early weeks of the season.

Jhoan Duran has become a staple of the bullpen. Josh Winder threw six shutout innings in his first career start. Trevor Larnach is beginning to turn the corner, and Jose Miranda made his major league debut Monday night.

It’s impressive, but the best is yet to come.

That’s because Royce Lewis is tearing it up with the St. Paul Saints. In 21 games this season, Lewis is hitting .320/.441/.587 with three homers, nine doubles, and five stolen bases. He has displayed the speed and power combo the Twins saw when they took him with the first overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. It could result in an Uber ride to Target Field.

There’s just one problem.

The Twins shocked everyone this offseason when they signed Carlos Correa. One of the top shortstops in the game, the signing was supposed to be a stopgap until Lewis was ready for the big leagues. But like a bad Lifetime movie, this one-night stand has turned into a romantic relationship.

Correa has beamed about playing in Minnesota with a Juicy Lucy in one hand, and several giant stuffed animals in the other. He’s even acknowledged the possibility of signing a long-term deal with the Twins. If Correa were to sign long-term, it would seem like Lewis would become trade bait. But when you look at the big picture, this is a good problem for the Twins to have.

Look at what Correa has already brought to the Twins. Despite hitting .243/.309/.324 with one homer in April, he’s been a Gold Glove defender at shortstop. He has also started to warm up at the plate. In his past four games, Correa has gone 10-for-18 with a walk, a double, and a .611 slugging percentage.

 

But Correa’s most significant contribution won’t be seen until October. Already an owner of one World Series ring, Correa has played in more postseason games (79) than the Twins since they moved to Minnesota in 1961. With 18 postseason home runs, Correa is already one of the greatest postseason players of all time. He could be a godsend for a team that has lost 18 straight playoff games.

If Correa wants to stay, the Twins should do everything they can to keep him. But reaching a deal would cloud Lewis’s future in Minnesota.

Coming into this season, the Twins allowed Lewis to get his feet wet in St. Paul. It made sense because the last time we saw him, he was hitting .236/.290/.371 with 12 homers and 22 stolen bases during the 2019 season. He had an MVP performance in the Arizona Fall League but missed two seasons because of the pandemic and a torn ACL.

It would have been understandable if Lewis had gotten off to a slow start in St. Paul. But Lewis has started to develop a case to make his way to Minneapolis soon. If Correa is there, it’s hard to see where Lewis fits in. But if the Twins want to make it work, they can find a way.

Lewis will have to switch positions if Correa opts out after this year and signs a long-term deal with the Twins. However, that shouldn’t be an issue. He played center field in the AFL in 2019.

Byron Buxton has entrenched himself in center, but he frequently gets injured. Having Lewis back up Buxton or even send him to a corner spot could maximize the Twins lineup and allow the front office to make moves to enhance the lineup elsewhere.

However, Lewis’ arrival would also create a log jam for Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, and Austin Martin (who could also wind up in the outfield). But the Twins need to find a way to get their best players on the field. There’s a good chance one of those could be Lewis soon.

Still, the most likely scenario is that Correa thanks Minnesota and signs a lucrative contract next offseason. But if he wants to stay, Lewis at least is making the front office ponder the right kind of difficult decisions.

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Photo Credit: Kim Klement (USA TODAY Sports)

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