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Moller: Twins surprise baseball world with Carlos Correa signing

| Tuesday, March 22, 2022

In a Sports Authority I wrote last week, I discussed a recent trade between the Twins and Yankees and some of the implications the trade had. For the Twins, I predicted the trade as a stepping stone to make future signings, and clearly that is what the deal was. In perhaps the biggest, most stunning move this offseason, the Twins signed shortstop Carlos Correa (arguably the most sought-after free agent this year) to a 3 year/$105.30 million deal on Saturday morning.

Let’s take a look at this signing and the implications the signing has for the Twins and Major League Baseball.

Looking at the intricacies of the signings, it is a bit of a quirky deal because of the opt-out freedom that Correa has. Correa can opt out of the deal after year one or two of the contract and become a free agent again if he wishes. With the free agent pool loaded with middle infielders this season, there was not as high of a demand for Correa as a normal year. Correa knows that he can get a huge, long-term contract in a year or two if he continues to perform at the level he is capable of. This could leave the Twins in a difficult position to keep Correa in the long term.

There are a lot of quirks to the deal that could see Correa leave Minneapolis after just one season, but in the short term, what does this mean for the Twins? The Twins entered the offseason in a very peculiar position. After winning the AL Central in 2019 and 2020, they tumbled to last in the division last year. While they did trade away some of their stars like José Berríos and Nelson Cruz, they retained the majority of their lineup, making it unclear if the front office would start an immediate rebuild.

The Twins have by far been the most active team in the offseason, and they had to make a string of deals to free up the money for Correa. Most of that money came from dumping Josh Donaldson’s $25 million/year contract on the Yankees. The Donaldson trade along with some other deals showed that the Twins’ front office wanted to make some changes, but it wasn’t clear what their goal was until this weekend.

The Correa deal shows that the Twins’ front office is committed to winning this season and that a rebuild is not in the cards for the organization just yet. Even if Correa does decide to leave the Twins after just one season, the front office has breathed life back into an organization that was in the dumps after last season. The amount of hype and energy surrounding the Twins right now is at an all-time high, and the players should be able to feed off of this energy.

So does this mean the Twins are going to be good in 2022? Not necessarily. They still have a lot of question marks, especially with pitching. The starting rotation for the Twins figures to be veteran Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan and Randy Dobnak. Other than Gray, that is not the type of lineup that is going to get a team to October. Both Ober and Ryan are young and have a lot of room for growth, but it’s hard to imagine either of them having an ERA under four this season. Realistically, the Twins are going to need to win a lot of high-scoring games if they want to be contenders, because their starting rotation is arguably one of the worst rotations in baseball.

Who knows, though? With the way things have been going, it isn’t unrealistic to think that the Twins won’t make another move in the coming weeks to bolster their starting rotation. They have plenty of middle infielders, and another trade could be in the cards to get some arms.

The Twins should be a very solid hitting team, and that will undoubtedly be their strength in 2022. As of now, their lineup will highlight Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, and Gio Urshela in addition to some younger players that could make noticeable improvements this season. That lineup should be a great combination of power, on-base percentage and base running that should see this Twins’ offense excel. Staying healthy could be a concern, though, with Buxton and Urshela having been injury-prone in the past.

As far as competition for the Twins, they will also have to deal with the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. The White Sox have built an incredible lineup and starting rotation, and they will be the clear favorite to defend their AL Central title in 2022. It’s hard to imagine the Twins being able to keep up with the White Sox in the standings.

The rest of the central does seem fairly manageable, with the Tigers, Royals and Guardians rounding out the division. The Tigers and Guardians could potentially have decent teams this season, but it’s hard to imagine either of them vying for a playoff spot. Because of the easier division, the Twins can strive to be a wild card in the expanded playoff system that has three wild card teams.

All in all, what does this mean for baseball? It shows that the little guys can get big-time players too. It seems like lately the big market teams like the Dodgers, Yankees and Mets have been snagging all of the game’s stars, but Correa went against the grain and signed with a small market team in the Twins. The Twins had to work hard to free up the salary space for him, but the deal shows that it is indeed possible for a small market team like the Twins to make a splash in the free agent market.

Regardless of how the Twins end up this season, the Correa move is a great move for an organization that needs some life and energy back in its players and fanbase. Correa is undoubtedly one of the best players in the game, and as a Twins fan, I cannot wait to watch Correa play at Target Field this season.

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About Nate Moller

Nate is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. He is originally from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently living in Siegfried Hall. Some of his passions include running, cross country skiing, and getting too worked up about Notre Dame and Minnesota sports teams.

Contact Nate