Carlos Correa said all the right things during a packed-house press conference at Target Field on Wednesday. While many thought there could be some animosity based on the strange, drawn-out nature in which his off-season unfolded, the star shortstop was cordial and complimentary.
Sure, he agreed to massive deals with two other teams within the last month. But all that matters to the Minnesota Twins, Correa himself, and his representation, is that he made his way back to the Twin Cities.
“I’m happy where I’m at right now, and I’m excited that I finally get back to work,” said Correa as he glanced at a full room of reporters, Twins staffers, and a handful of TV cameras. “I know where I’m going to be for a long time, and I can help lead this group of young men to where we want to get from here.”
While he seemed relieved to finish such an arduous process, it’s clear that the real work is only just beginning. Correa is returning to a team that hit a stone wall in the final six weeks of the 2022 season despite stellar play from the shortstop. His return is a vital aspect of the team going forward, but should fans expect better results on the field? According to Correa, that’s a must.
“The main goal is to win, and by winning, I don’t mean making the playoffs. I mean winning championships,” Correa emphasized. “I think with the core group that we have, the right guidance, the right work ethic, and the right atmosphere in the clubhouse – we can accomplish those things.”
Those are lofty standards for a relatively young core, but it’s exactly what they need to hear now that Correa is locked in for the better part of the next decade. The team didn’t make this signing with a “business as usual” mindset. This transaction is the priciest in team history and is a major shift for the organization. Now the output needs to shift radically, too.
The core that Correa is referring to likely includes his young mentee, Jose Miranda, along with top prospect Royce Lewis who filled in admirably for a few weeks when Correa was out of action. But most notably, Correa finds himself at the center of that core alongside his dear friend, Byron Buxton.
Correa says he spoke to the Twins center fielder nearly every day, and the group remains as close as brothers.
“Last year, when I came in, I felt welcomed right from the get-go. I felt like I was part of a family,” Correa said. “My heart was here, and I’m glad we got this done.”
Some will take these words with a grain of salt. A common analogy being thrown around is that of a girlfriend breaking up with their significant other in an attempt to land a hotter date elsewhere. Then, when she fails to do so, she crawls back to her original lover as if nothing had ever happened.
Not only is this a lazy take that doesn’t grasp the full scope of the situation, but it’s bitter for the sake of – what exactly? To scare free agents-to-be from ever leaving the Twins? To detract from the happiness fans feel now that a star player has chosen to return to the club?
That trope says more about the love life of those spreading it than it does about Correa. It also speaks to the bitterness that many Twins fans feel after being outbid by large market teams year after year – which is fair. This signing is a monumental point for Correa, the current front office regime, and the franchise as a whole.
The original offers from the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets were considerably more than Minnesota’s, but the other teams didn’t trust Correa in the same way the Twins front office did.
“Derek did not let go. He was constantly in communication, constantly calling.” Said Scott Boras, the super-agent for Correa and many other stars across the league. “I think [the Twins] knew they’re the organization that truly knew the leadership value in addition to the skill and what [Correa] could mean to a franchise.”
Time will tell if this contract is a sign of things to come. Correa won’t bring a trophy to the Target Field Champions Club all on his own. But one thing is certain. Along with the Twins and his representation, he is saying all the right things as everyone starts this new chapter.