As free agency begins in MLB, the Twins are facing a series of contradictions when it comes to Carlos Correa, their 2022 shortstop who recently opted out — just as everyone knew he would — after one year under contract.
Are the Twins a Correa away from contending in 2023? I would argue that they are not.
Are the Twins the subtraction of Correa away from spiraling in 2023? That's possible, given that he was arguably (and analytically unarguably) the team's best player last season.
It would be easier to justify making a hard push to re-sign Correa for $30 million-plus on a long term contract if more inexpensive young pitching had already arrived, but that's simply not the case.
It would be easier to justify bowing out of discussions and focusing on a big-ticket starting pitcher like Carlos Rodon if there was a ready made in-house replacement for Correa. But Royce Lewis' 2022 injury and subsequent questions about how that will impact him in 2023 and beyond leave the Twins vulnerable, as Phil Miller and I talked about on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast.
That the Twins are even in the conversation stems from a moment of seeming serendipity last offseason, when Correa couldn't get the type of contract he is again seeking and was steered to the Twins by agent Scott Boras. Since an opportunity to land a player of this caliber is rare for the Twins (and really most other Minnesota teams) in free agency, shouldn't they be all-in?
It makes sense, until you realize how seldom those rare occasions have worked out well here. May I re-introduce you to Tom Thibodeau and Josh Donaldson? Can we agree that Kirk Cousins, Tubby Smith, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have been/were a mixed bag at best? Might we have the same conversation in two years about Tim Connelly and Rudy Gobert, even if it's far too soon to say it now?
I do think Correa is a safer bet than a lot of other big-ticket options — someone who might, at worst, afford credibility a la Parise and Suter. For 20% of your payroll, though, is that worth it?
The Twins have a million questions to answer after injuries and inconsistency sabotaged their chances of winning the dreadful AL Central in 2022.
The Correa Conundrum is the necessary first domino that will dictate other moves, and if there really is mutual interest it might come down to this: Whether the Twins decide they can't afford to keep Correa, or can't afford to lose him.