Gleeman: The Twins’ front office will be tested after losing Carlos Correa

Gleeman: The Twins’ front office will be tested after losing Carlos Correa

Gleeman: The Twins’ front office will be tested after losing Carlos Correa

Finally, the Twins’ biggest fears came true, as the Giants decided to blow them out of the water, offering Carlos Correa a whopping 13-year, $350 million contract which the superstar shortstop accepted on Tuesday night late.

So much for that.

It’s the fourth-largest contract in baseball history, trailing only Mike Trout ($426.5 million), Mookie Betts ($365 million), and Aaron Judge ($360 million). Correa also surpassed Francisco Lindor ($341 million), Fernando Tatis Jr. ($340 million), Corey Seager ($325 million) and Trea Turner ($300 million) for the largest contract ever given to a shortstop.

San Francisco flexed its muscles, sidelined Minnesota and landed the second best free agent in the class after being rejected by the judge last week.

Correa did exactly what the twins expected him to do when they signed him last spring to a three-year, $105.3 million contract with the option to opt-out after his first and second years. He was one of MLB’s top shortstops, hitting .291 / .366 / .467 in 136 games to lead the position in OPS. And then he gave up, re-entering free agency at age 28 in search of the mega deal he failed to get last offseason.

What the twins hoped was that Correa would enjoy their seven months together, on and off the field, so much that he would see Minnesota as a viable long-term home and perhaps be persuaded to choose their contract offer over deals. similar from other , bigger market teams. In the end, his feelings for Minnesota didn’t matter much, since the twins weren’t particularly close to the best offer.

The AthleticDan Hayes of reported that the twins’ final offer was 10 years and $285 million, exceeding the largest contract in franchise history by $100 million. From the twins’ perspective, it was a huge, historic, franchise-changing offer. But from Correa’s perspective, the Giants’ proposal was still three years and $65 million away.

If everything was the same, maybe Correa would have stayed with the Gemini, but we’ll never know because not everything was the same. Not even close, really. No one should blame Correa for taking what is by far the best offer, from by far the most successful team, in by far the biggest market. While disappointing to Twins fans, he’s certainly far from surprising.

It’s also hard to blame the Twins for not beating the Giants’ offer, which likely would have required paying Correa about $30 million a season over his 40s. Doing so while maintaining midsize payrolls, as the Twins have done in recent years, would have been extremely challenging, and team ownership has given no indication of plans to push spending beyond league-average levels.

However, it is noteworthy that the Twins apparently offered a slightly higher average annual salary ($28.5 million) than the Giants ($27 million), but were willing to do it for 10 seasons and not 13. At one point a line has to be drawn, and to do so with an offer spanning Correa’s 37-year-old season makes sense. But is that really a big enough difference to lose it?

What will sport be like in 13 years? How much will the league’s revenues and payrolls increase? And where will $28.5 million sit in top salaries? Beyond that, the odds of a front office still being active more than a decade later are slim. Derek Falvey and company could have pushed to get Correa back at all costs and made the end of the deal a problem for someone else.

Whether they led the Pohlad family or the baseball operations department, the Twins were traveling at $28.5 million a season through 2032, but hit the brakes before 2033, 2034 and 2035. Depending on your point of view , this is either a commendable fiscal liability or too focused on the distant future for which this front office probably won’t be there.

There was a lot of talk about Correa’s inability to get a long-term deal to his liking this past offseason, resulting in him switching his agent to Scott Boras during the lockout and falling into the Twins’ laps in the middle of spring training. In retrospect, Correa probably maximized his earnings, securing a total of $385.1 million over 14 years, with a quick stop in Minnesota between Houston and San Francisco.

If that total of $385.1 million were a contract, it would be the second largest ever, instead of the $350 million that “only” ranks fourth. Up until nine months ago, fans genuinely and rightly disappointed that the twins hadn’t handed out one of the most expensive deals of all time would have seemed like a preposterous idea, but the arrival of Correa has changed the idea of ​​what it’s possible. But only so much.

Now the twins have to regroup, and fast.

If the plan is to transition to yet another all-star free agent, the only two options left are Dansby Swanson and Carlos Rodón, who have both met the twins. Swanson is the natural fallback as a 28-year-old shortstop available for about half the price. Rodón has more advantages as holder no. 1, but it can cost $200 million, and this front office has never paid a pitcher more than $20 million.

Sniffing Swanson and Rodón would leave the twins in a very difficult position. They would be their best player from a 78-84 team, with a lot of money to spend but no star-caliber free agents to spend it on. They could go after top unsigned second-tier free agents, like right-hander Nathan Eovaldi or a veteran big bat like Justin Turner, JD Martinez, or Michael Brantley.

Other than that, any major picks by the Gemini would have to come via trade, costing them valuable big leaguers from a roster that has lost back-to-back seasons and/or better prospects from a farm system that has already lost a ton of talent at the trade deadline. Treading water isn’t enough, and now even that would require replacing Correa’s star-level output just to stay afloat.

Going into the offseason, my assessment of the Twins’ biggest needs were, in order: starting shortstop, frontline pitcher, starting-level catcher, right fielder, and mount man. They’ve fully addressed just one of five areas, signing catcher Christian Vázquez to a three-year, $30 million deal on Monday while waiting for Correa to make the decision on him.

Kyle Farmer, acquired from the Reds last month, is also a strong playable shortstop until Royce Lewis is ready in the middle of the season. But the Twins didn’t add any pitching or a platoon outfielder alternative to Kyle Garlick. Add in the exit of Correa and the trade that sent Gio Urshela to the Angels for a minors prospect, and the Twins have undeniably been losing talent since the end of the season.

To move forward in any meaningful way, the Twins need to add significant talent in several crucial spots, which will require some very creative maneuvering and a willingness to make home swings on the rallies: Corbin Burnes? Zac Gallo? Paul Lopez? Brandon Woodruff? Willy Adames? – which can be as painful and involve as much risk as simply signing a big player on the open market.

It’s possible that Gemini may also decide that stepping back with an eye to 2024 is the safest route, but stepping back from what, exactly? In six seasons under Falvey, the Twins are 451-419 overall, equivalent to an 84-78 record through 162 games, with zero playoff wins. They didn’t build enough to tear it down and build it again, and that could ruin the fanbase’s already shaky morale.

Getting value for upcoming free agents Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle would make sense for a rebuilding team, as would the signings of Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and maybe even Luis Arraez. But that’s a terribly abrupt U-turn from the $285 million toss for Correa, and it would also make spending $30 million for Vázquez look like an immediate faux pas. Moving forward is a must.

They made a legitimate run on Correa and saw most of the quality free agent alternatives go off the board before the bid closed. There are three ways left: sign Swanson or Rodón for big money, or pay the price in the form of players by trading for a star. Correa’s re-signing was always unlikely, so the twins should have fallback plans. Now we’ll see if they can make it.

(Photos by Derek Falvey and Carlos Correa: Brace Hemmelgarn / Getty Images)

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