La Velle E. Neal III
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La Velle's 3-2 Pitch: Three observations and two predictions on Sundays.

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The Twins have a checklist of things to accomplish this offseason, but nothing is more important than trying to get Carlos Correa to agree to a long-term deal.

So don't think that the trade for Kyle Farmer has ended that search.

The Twins have engaged Correa, who opted out of his Twins deal after one season and is represented by uber agent Scott Boras, on different deals of different lengths, an attempt to find some common ground with the top shortstop on the market who batted .291 with 22 homers and 64 RBI last season. His 5.4 WAR led the team, he enjoyed his time with the club and is open to returning. Deals as long as 10 years and as short as six have been kicked around, with varying average annual values.

But as the top shortstop available, Correa can command top dollar. And Boras is known to play the slow game with his best free agents in most cases.

It's not clear if the Twins are willing to wait until January or longer for Correa and Boras to decide on where he will sign. Correa has the leverage here, because he's better than Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson and other shortstops on the market. Correa is in his prime, and his athleticism suggests he will age gracefully.

Boras is more than thorough when it comes to shopping his players. He will request a private audience with club owners. He will hold court at the upcoming winter meetings in San Diego, turn on the pun machine and try to drive up interest. He will slow-play, unless a team makes a whopper offer. It's not clear if Twins owner Jim Pohlad will meet with Boras in person, but he's made clear both his fondness for Correa and his desire to get him back. If Correa and Boras decide to wait out the market, will the Twins remain patient or move on to someone else?

The trade for Farmer buys them some time. If they swing and miss on a top shortstop, Farmer could be the starter on Opening Day. But the drop-off from Correa to Farmer, 32, would be as bad as when Michael Jordan left the Bulls and was replaced in the lineup by Pete Myers in 1993. Farmer had a .701 on base-plus-slugging percentage last season for Cincinnati compared with .834 for Correa. The Twins lineup, already in need of righthanded pop, would be even more in need if Correa signs elsewhere.

That's why the Twins have considered pivoting to Bogaerts, 30, who batted .307 for Boston last season with 15 homers, 73 RBI and an .833 OPS. But Bogaerts also is represented by Boras and might be willing to wait things out as well. So Twins fans might find out later rather than sooner who will be the starting shortstop next spring.

Vikings add to Pats' pain

Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn't pleased after Thursday's 33-26 loss to the Vikings. His team struggled on third down, ran into Vikings punter Ryan Wright on fourth down and had no answers for wide receiver Justin Jefferson (but who does?).

He might be even angrier in the coming weeks if his team misses the postseason, because of the NFC North.

The Thanksgiving Day defeat was the Patriots' third to an NFC North team this season. They lost in overtime in Week 4 at Green Bay, when Bailey Zappe stepped in for injured quarterback Mac Jones. Then they inexplicably were trounced 33-14 by Chicago in Foxborough. A shutout win over Detroit is their only victory against the division.

Thursday's loss dropped New England to eighth in the AFC. That's outside the playoff zone. The Vikings and a couple of NFC North rivals could have a hand in the Patriots' demise.

Colts earned benefit of doubt

The Indianapolis Colts have taken some heat for their shock appointment of ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday as interim coach. Most notably from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which advocates diversity in the NFL. The group has inquired about Indianapolis naming Saturday, a former Colts player with no prior coaching experience, and not considering a person of color for the position.

In this specific case, I'm not ready to complain about the Good Ol' Boy Network.

Jim Irsay has owned the Colts since 1997. During his watch, the Colts have hired Black coaches Tony Dungy (Super Bowl champion, 2006) and Jim Caldwell. Yes, Saturday gets to use the interim stint to prove he can coach, which is an advantage. But the Colts plan to conduct a thorough search once the season ends, and I'm willing to wait for an organization that has diversified the position in the past.


The right move: a lefty

Look for the Twins to finally land a lefthander — perhaps Carlos Rodon — for their starting rotation. The last two lefties to make at least 20 starts for the Twins are Martin Perez and Adalberto Mejia.

Heating up in the cold

The Wild will end the year on a positive note, going 9-5-2 over their final 16 games of 2022, beginning with a victory over Arizona on Sunday.