March 19: Correa’s deal includes a limited no-trade clause this season, which becomes a full no-trade clause in 2023 and 2024 if he chooses to opt-in to those contract years, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY (via Twitter). Without knowing the full details of the restricted no-trade clause, this is still a relatively impactful development. If the Twins drop out of the fight this season, they will have a sizeable trading chip in their hands at Correa.
March 18: In a stunning move, the Twins have agreed to sign the market’s top free agent, shortstop Carlos Correa, reports Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link). Rather than the massive long-term deal Correa had been seeking, he would instead sign a three-year, $105.3MM contract with an opt-out clause after the first and second seasons of the contract. ESPN’s Jeff Passan added that the contract pays out $35.1 million per year which is evenly distributed. Correa is represented by Boras Corporation.
The Twins gave Correa the second-highest average annual value of any position player in MLB history, trailing only $36MM AAV on Mike Trout’s decade-long contract extension, $360MM with Angels and barely surpassing $35MM AAV on Anthony Rendon. seven year contract with Angel. This step also means option No. 1 and No. 2 of the 2012 draft, Correa and Byron Buxton, will now be teammates for at least the 2022 season.
After relinquishing the remainder of Josh Donaldson’s contract in trading with the Yankees, Minnesota was immediately linked with shortstop free agent Trevor Story. Instead, more than $40MM saved in Donaldson’s deal will be reallocated to Correa, whose $105.3MM guarantee trails only Joe Mauer for the largest in Twins franchise history. Correa turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros at the end of the season, meaning the Twins, profit-sharing recipients, would lose their third-highest pick in this year’s draft to sign him. That would be their pick in Competitive Balance Round B, which would fall in the mid-60s. Astros, meanwhile, will get a compensating selection at the end of Competitive Balance Round B, which usually falls in the early 70s.
An allowance in the deal gives Correa a major insurance net; if he stays healthy in 2022 and earns close to 2021 or 2019 levels, he will surely re-enter the market looking for something along the lines of the 10-year deal he was originally looking for. Should he sustain a record injury or suffer an unexpected downturn, he will have another $35.1 million in salary waiting for him in 2023 with the same chance of opting out at the end of the 2023-24 season.
The 27-year-old Correa, a career .277/.356/.481 hitter who trimmed a .279/.366/.485 with a career-high 26 homers in 640 plate appearances last season, will serve as a focal point in a lineup of Twins also guided by Buxton and second baseman Jorge Polanco. He’s been an average hitter or better every season of his big league career, with the exception of a shortened 2020 season, and has scored 20 or more home runs in five of his six full seasons at MLB level. Correa has walked with a 10.8% clip and scored 20.5% of his plate appearances since debuting as a 20-year-old rookie, including career-best marks of 11.7% and 18.1%, respectively, last season.
Like the old Astro, Correa comes with a relatively tainted reputation stemming from the 2017 Houston sign-stealing scandal, but George Springer proved last winter that the market will still pay a premium for those players, as long as they stay productive in the years to come. Correa only serves as further proof of that reality. And, just as Springer was embraced by Toronto fans, Correa is sure to be well received in Minnesota as long as he produces in a Twins uniform.
Like Buxton, Correa has had some endurance issues, only reaching 500 plate appearances twice in his career. However, he played in 148 games last season and in 58 of 60 games during the shortened 2020 season. Correa briefly missed the Covid-19 list during the summer of 2021, but he hasn’t been on the injury list since breaking a rib in June 2019. Another major injury he’s had in his career, is a torn thumb ligament. , came in 2017 and had no noticeable effect.
Correa only deepened a Minnesota lineup that was rich in talent but also lacking in consistency. Each of Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Gary Sanchez had 30-homer seasons in their past but have ebb and flow through roller-coaster shows on the piri.
ng in recent years. Third baseman Gio Urshela, acquired with Sanchez in a Donaldson deal, will also be looking for a rebound to 2019-20 levels (.310/.358/.523) after playing through health issues in 2021.
Meanwhile, former top prospects Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach have a sizeable offensive limit but are playing through injury in their first full appearances in 2021. Kirilloff, in particular, played
through a torn wrist tendon prior to end-of-season surgery. Top prospect Jose Miranda, who posted video-game numbers between Double-A and Triple-A last season (.344/.401/.572), is expected to debut in 2022 and could see time on third base and/or designated hitter.
All that to say, the talent from a formidable lineup is here in Minnesota, though they need a few things to break down. Defensively, Correa gave the Twins a pair of winning Platinum Gloves, joining Buxton in that regard. With quality defenders like Kepler, Urshela and young catcher Ryan Jeffers also occupying key positions on the diamond, the Twins should have a strong defensive team overall. The Twins are already 12th in the Major in both Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average in 2021, and Correa should improve on both points.