This is not the post I thought I’d be writing tonight. And not just because it’s not about the Cubs. What a shocker. According to Mark Berman, free agent shortstop Carlos Correa has signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Twins worth $105.3 million.
That deal comes with an AAV of ~$35 million, the “largest ever for an MLB infielder,” like that matters to anybody besides Scott Boras, and carries an opt-out after each of the first two years.
MLB source: Free agent shortstop Carlos Correa has reached an agreement with the Minnesota Twins (@Twins) on a three-year deal worth $105.3 million with opt outs after the first two years. Highest average annual value for an MLB infielder.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) March 19, 2022
It all started with a cryptic tweet from Astros catcher (and close friend of Correa) Martin Maldonado, who tweeted only “SORRY I TRIED” in all caps, followed by two crying emojis. The message sent us into a spiral, because Maldonado hasn’t exactly hid his attempts to recruit Correa back to Houston this offseason. So if he wasn’t happy, then it was fair to assume someone else was about to be. Unfortunately, that someone wasn’t us. I don’t even want to show you the post I was starting to draft up.
More in a moment. I need to collect my thoughts, because this wasn’t who I expected to land the biggest fish in the pond.
Okay, first of all, this isn’t completely out of nowhere. The Twins were considered something of a darkhorse in this race, alongside the Cubs, Red Sox, and Orioles(?), over the last few days. And after a deal failed to materialize between Houston and Correa all week, it felt like just a matter of time before someone else swooped in. That someone else, I guess, is Minnesota.
If I’ve got this right, the Twins can expect Correa to slide into their starting shortstop role, with Jorge Polanco moving over to second base. For at least the one year he’s guaranteed to be under contract. Before this signing, the Twins were projected to finish second to the White Sox in the AL Central, and they still will afterwards, but this could help close the gap.
The part we’ll all be desperate to know now, of course, is … why not the Cubs? Well, if Brett were writing this, I think he’d remind us how unlikely this has been from the beginning. The only way the Cubs were going to accelerate their timeline by this much was on a deal that was seen as a clear and obvious win on value (whether or not we agree with that approach is a separate matter entirely). Either way, I’m not sure guaranteeing Correa so much money when he can opt out after just one year is so obviously considered a win for a team so far away from contention. No. Unlike most of the Cubs other efforts this offseason, a slightly longer term deal (or a deal with opt-outs that didn’t start until later) actually made more sense on this particular free agent. Especially because signing Correa would have also cost the Cubs a second round draft pick, the associated bonus pool money, and $500,000 from their international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. Certainly that’s a hit they’d be willing to take if they could spread the cost out over multiple years. But on a one-year deal? Less so.
The more I think about it, the more likely it seems that Correa was always going to go one of two ways this offseason: (1) Either he was going to get the massive, 10-year deal that beat the contract signed by Francisco Lindor (or, at least, Corey Seager) or (2) He was going to push for an opt-out after one year so he could try again next winter. Since the Cubs were probably hanging out somewhere in the middle of those two options, you could see how they might fall short. Again, we can talk about whether that’s smart or not, but I’d guess that’s what happened.
I am, however, a little surprised a more obvious contender than the Twins wasn’t willing to pony up for what could be just a one-year deal, but maybe the high-AAV spooked too many of the big spenders approaching various levels of the CBT. And what happens if he didn’t opt-out for some reason? Just thinking out loud.
But that’s not to say I’m not disappointed. I am. Completely. I wanted to see the Cubs step up and bring Correa to Chicago. And I when the deal comes with a TOTAL dollar commitment of just north of $100M, people are going to wonder Why not us? That’s understandable.
The good news is that it could still be the Cubs next winter, when Correa could opt-out and try again for the huge contract he wasn’t able to land this offseason. But the bad news is that there’s no guarantee he’ll opt out and no guarantee he’ll pick the Cubs even if he does.
UPDATE: Here are a couple of additional confirmations.
Carlos Correa’s deal with the Twins will pay him $35.1 million in each of the three years. No front-loading. He’s got opt-outs after the first and second seasons of the deal. It came together quickly today. And the top free agent of the winter goes to Minnesota in a stunner.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 19, 2022
Breaking @MLB news: Carlos Correa is in agreement with #Twins on 3-year, $105.3 million deal, source confirms. Deal includes opt-outs after 2022 and 2023 seasons. @MarkBermanFox26 was first to report. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 19, 2022
UPDATE II: Now this? This is a VERY beatable offer. I am so very nervous to find out where the Cubs actually landed, if they delivered a legitimate offer (or any offer?) at all.
The Houston #Astros offered $160 million over 5 years to Correa before the lockout.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 19, 2022