From his first day at Target Field, Carlos Correa was already a star with the Twins.
He was assigned the left corner locker at the back of clubhouse by the club, which is the honorable place for undisputed leader of team. Joe Mauer occupied it for nine seasons, before Nelson Cruz took over.
Correa was often seen there before practice. He lay on an acupressure pad with his feet on a chair. Acupressure, which is a technique that relies on traditional Chinese medicine, is said to release blocked energy within the body. It can reduce back pain and stiffness. Correa was often prone and talked to his teammates, scrolled through his phone or scrolled through his mobile. Correa even conducted an interview on his smartphone during the final homestand of the season.
Correa stated that he has not considered whether to opt out from the last two years of his contract in order to re-enter free agent market. He must declare the decision within five days of the World Series’ end.
He said, “That’s something that I want to think about during the off-season.”
Many people believe he has already made his decision. In August, the New York Post reported that Correa was likely out. Most baseball observers think he’s done here, especially after September’s devastating collapse of the Twins.
Correa, 28 years old, has hinted that he may stay if the Twins offer him a long-term contract. Scott Boras is Correa’s agent and he clearly has learned from his mistakes as he publicly lobby the Twins for an offer.
He first told Pioneer Press that he wanted a long-lasting relationship with someone. He later compared himself to a high-end luxury item in a high-end shop with the other reporters. He said, “I’m their product.” “If they want my product they just have to come and get it.”
It remains to be seen if the Twins will bite or not, and if Correa is really open to staying. These aren’t 2002 Twins who are counting pennies in the Metrodome and eating hot dogs buns in the Metrodome. There’s plenty of revenue coming from national TV contracts and other sources that can pay Correa. The fact that Boras, the most powerful baseball agent, paid Correa $35.1 million per annum and the Twins locked up Byron Buxton at $100 million for seven years is a sign of how the Twins have changed their perception. Although they are not as wealthy as the Dodgers or Yankees, their pockets have grown to be deep.
Believe it. The Twins are able to afford Correa and Buxton and can get a free agent to be their starting pitcher. This is something they will need given the difficult schedule in 2023. There will be no more 19 games against the poor Royals or Tigers. The Twins will only face AL Central rivals 13 times, while adding series against all National League teams. This means that the Nordstrom Rack method of acquiring starting pitching will no longer work. Instead, it will require you to sort through a bunch of rejected pitches to find one Brooks Brothers irregular.
Six years into the Derek Falvey/Thad Lavine regime, the Twins still haven’t drafted or developed a reliable starter; they’re mostly relying on mercenaries. Joe Ryan was acquired by Tampa Bay, Sonny Gray from Cincinnati, and Tyler Mahle (from Cincinnati), while Dylan Bundy arrived in free agency. (Kenta Maeda was out for the entire season, but is expected to return in 2023. She came from the Dodgers. The Twins draftees Bailey Ober and Josh Winder have not done enough to show themselves.
That two-times-through-the-lineup-and-out business won’t cut it against the Dodgers, Mets, Braves and Cardinals. You could see two teams that had significantly more talent than the Twins if you watched the 10 minute Mets-Padres Wild Card Series. This is a problem. The Twins haven’t had an ace since Johan Santana. They are now trotting out Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander every fifth game (assuming they don’t opt out of their 2023 contracts). With a healthy Buxton at centerfield, the Twins have a formidable look that they haven’t had in over 20 years.
But let’s get back to Correa. Correa says he enjoys it here. He took his wife and son to the State Fair. He also tried several Jucy Lucys, the cheese-stuffed hamburger he first saw on a 2015 Houston trip. He was not told to eat the entire patty at once, and he ended up with a full chin of molten cheese. This rookie error was one he would never make again. He said that Matt’s Bar sends a batch of patty to the clubhouse every few weeks.
He said, “During baseball season even when we were visiting Houston, we didn’t do much.” “I don’t like going out. I prefer to be at home with my family and get my rest. We enjoyed our time at the field and the people’s kindness. People at the Mall of America are always super friendly. It was a great experience. It was a wonderful experience.
Correa’s September performance was strong and he finished at.291, which is his highest average since 2017. However, he had four less homers (22) and 28 fewer RBI (64) than in 2021. Correa’s season scores better in analytical categories such as wRC+ (runs/plate appearance), where he was the leader in qualifying shortstops and placed 22nd in majors.
He said, “I wish there were more ground ball pitchers to improve my defensive metrics.” “But there are a lot fly ball pitchers so I don’t get as many opportunities to make fancy plays. However, offensively it’s been much better than last year.
Correa is surrounded by Trea Turner (Dodgers), Dansby Swinson (Braves), and possibly Xavier Bogaerts, Red Sox’s elite shortstop free agent market. It is not clear where Correa fits in this pantheon. The Falvey/Levine regime would be indicted more severely if Correa leaves and the Twins offer him a better deal.
The Twins could, however, decide to let Correa go, spend more money on starting pitching, and give shortstop to the talented Royce Lewis, provided Lewis is able to recover from his second major knee operation in two years. The Twins will not expect Lewis to return until June so they would need a temporary fill-in, such as Nick Gordon or a free agent.
Toby Gardenhire (manager of the St. Paul Saints), stated that Royce could play shortstop if Carlos doesn’t return. This is where Lewis began the season. He’s just as versatile as anything I’ve seen at short. He’ll be able handle the growing pains of being out for most of his two seasons. Because of his ability to bring to a team, he’ll be the man the Twins want in their lineup every day.
Lewis spent the final week of the season in Dallas with the knee rehab. Twins manager Rocco baldelli didn’t speculate on Lewis replacing Correa in 2023.
Baldelli stated that “he has to get back at full strength.” We don’t know when exactly that will happen. He is in a good place at the moment. We have been very happy with the results of his rehab. At this point, however, it’s impossible to answer that question.
This off-season, two other things must happen. Baldelli keeps a chart at his desk that was created by peak performance and training staffs. It indicates when players require days off to prevent injuries. It has been a disaster. It was a spectacular failure. Thirty-two Twins were on different injured lists, tied for third in baseball per spotrac.com, while 19 others were still on it at the end of the season. It’s not the first time injuries have accumulated like cordwood ever since Falvey & Levine arrived.
Falvey stated, “It all starts with me.” “I must assess the organizational situation and decide a path forward.”
Falvey Falvey announced that Michael Salazar, the head trainer for athletics, was being fired on Monday.
The Twins must reestablish relationships with the fans who were turned off by the lockout and streaming service issues. The Twins still have a lot of work ahead. A 22% drop in attendance since 2019 is a clear indication that they are far from their best. Target Field’s final attendance of 1,801,128 fans paid was the lowest in a non COVID season since 2010.
Many cord-cutters with Hulu or YouTube TV found that they don’t miss Twins games. The club’s refusal to air even one game per week on free TV, in an area where there is still no reliable broadband or cable service, remains problematic. Why can’t the Twins air the same 25 games on free TV that the Mets can in New York?
Plans are in place for TwinsFest and a Twins Winter Caravan. Also, the first ever in-person Diamond Awards. This is all good news. Caravan cannot be limited to alumni and rookies; Buxton, Luis Arraez, Baldelli and Buxton should all be on the bus. It all begins with Correa and how the Twins move from there.