In a few days, there will be a press conference at Target Field. Carlos Correa will sit at a table, flashing his trademark smile and putting his signature on a 6-year, $200 million contract to remain with the Minnesota Twins.
“I always wanted to be here,” Correa will probably say while putting the finishing strokes to paper. “It just felt like home.”
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will walk up to Correa for a photo op before he and Scott Boras bite into a Juicy Lucy. All will be well at 1 Twins Way, but it’s the result of another disappointing offseason for Correa.
Let’s go back to the spring of 2022. All was quiet in Twins Territory until Correa signed a 3-year, $105.3 million contract. It was a euphoric day for a fan base that is used to watching their team dive through the bargain bin every winter and bred optimism for a season that appeared to be going through the motions.
But why did Correa come to Minnesota? Was it because of the Juicy Lucys? Was it because of the Minnesota State Fair? Or was it the friendly demeanor that everyone showed as he worked his way through an early-season slump?
The answer was none of the above. Correa came to Minnesota because every avenue to get a big payday had dried up, and the Twins ponied up to convince him to stay.
It’s like the plot of every “scalding hot girl goes to prom with giant nerd” movie. When the quarterback, the captain of the basketball team, and the All-State shortstop already have dates, Katie goes to the dance with Arthur. Arthur believes that he can make Katie fall in love with him but Katie bolts as soon as the quarterback becomes single again.
When Correa was first on the market, he wanted a big-money, long-term deal. The teams with a checkbook big enough to make a deal declined, and Correa went somewhere he could enhance his value – Target Field.
Correa’s .330 career batting average at Target Field is the highest of any stadium he’s played with a minimum of 10 games. His .550 slugging percentage ranks second, and his on-base percentage (.394) and OPS (.944) rank third. If there was a place to enhance his value, Minnesota was the place to do it, even if he had to resist throwing down a greasy, stuffed burger on a daily basis.
To Correa’s credit, the plan worked. He hit .291/.366/.467 with 22 homers and dove into a market ready to throw cash around. The Twins made their own 10-year, $285 million offer, but Correa agreed to a 13-year, $350 million contract with the San Francisco Giants.
Things were good for Correa until he began to take his physical. A lower leg injury from 2014 became a focal point, and the Giants weren’t sure how the leg would hold up over time. Correa then turned to the New York Mets, who offered a 12-year, $315 million contract but ultimately with the same concerns.
Things weren’t looking good for Correa at that point. He rightfully wanted to get paid, but what team was willing to take on medical risk to give him the money he wanted?
Like Arthur kicking down the door to the gymnasium with a bouquet full of dandelions, the Twins were there.
Who could expect anything less? The Twins traded for Sam Dyson in 2019 while his shoulder was falling apart. They also traded for Chris Paddack despite his previous elbow issues. It was the team who watched as Tyler Mahle spent two weeks on the injured list last July before throwing 12 innings and trading for him. Any injury concern this team deals with turns out to be the worst-case scenario. This time, it’s amplified by a $200 million contract.
There will be a section of Twins fans who will shrug and celebrate that Correa came back. But this is the same group that wanted to run Joe Mauer out of town for not catching 162 games, hitting .400, and slugging 50 home runs annually. If Correa’s leg forces him to the injured list at any point, how will Twins fans treat someone who is making that much money and isn’t from Minnesota?
You could argue that bringing Correa back isn’t necessary. The Twins have former No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis waiting in the wings. While he’s recovering from his second ACL tear in a 15-month span, he could have produced the same while allowing the front office to allocate money to other concerns like – I don’t know – pitching?
Ask the Houston Astros if they miss Correa after turning to Jeremy Peña last season. They may not answer, but the giant “2022 WORLD CHAMPIONS” in left field might give you an idea.
Then there’s the reality. Bringing back Correa isn’t going to guarantee the Twins a World Series. You could say that about any free agent signing, but it’s especially true for the Twins. While signing Correa screams, “let’s win the World Series,” running back Emilio Pagán and the same starting rotation from a year ago says, “Maybe we could win our division?”
Maybe this time, it will work out for Katie and Arth…I mean the Twins and Carlos. In all likelihood, it’s just a stopgap until the next desperate suitor comes to town.