It was free agency disguised as a teen-drama series: hookups and breakups, jilted suitors, broken guarantees, whirlwind courtships on each coasts. The saga of Carlos Correa’s next contract seemed so implausible — deals with three teams, each price lots of of tens of millions of dollars, all in a 30-day span — that it will need to have been fiction.
And maybe it was all only a dream, a swirl of unfinished plotlines that ended up in the identical place. On Wednesday, Correa rubbed his eyes, looked around and saw Minnesota. Again. He looked as if it would just like the view.
“Kylo goes to grow as much as be Minnesota Nice, which I like, and we’re very excited,” Correa said, spotting his 13-month-old son in the group at a news conference at Goal Field. “I get more Jucy Lucys, also.”
The Jucy Lucy, a Minnesota-style burger with the cheese tucked contained in the meat, goes for $9.50 at Matt’s Bar & Grill in Minneapolis, meaning Correa could afford greater than 21 million of them together with his recent six-year, $200 million contract with the Twins. That might be before taxes and agent fees, in fact — and Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, worked hard for this commission.
On Dec. 13, Boras reached a 13-year, $350 million agreement for Correa with the San Francisco Giants, pending a physical exam. Per week later, on the eve of a scheduled news conference, the Giants still had not made the deal official. They were concerned about Correa’s right leg, which was surgically repaired in 2014.
Boras then pivoted to the Mets, whose owner, Steven A. Cohen, agreed to pay Correa $315 million for 12 years — again, pending a physical exam. The Mets, it turned out, were just as wary because the Giants, and conversations about reworking the deal stretched into the brand new yr.
Fortunately for Correa, his old team was indeed Minnesota Nice: As Correa spanned the country searching for a recent home, the Twins left the sunshine on for him.
“I do feel fortunate to be sitting here today,” said Derek Falvey, the Twins’ president of baseball operations. “However it was at all times a part of our mission from that time forward, once we came upon there was potential uncertainty around the primary landing spot, that we could determine a technique to bring him back here.”
Correa, a shortstop who starred for the Houston Astros in his first seven seasons, signed with Minnesota last March for a then-record annual salary for a position player ($35.1 million) and the flexibility to opt out after one season. He had a typical Correa season — strong defense, solid on-base percentage (.366), decent power (22 homers) — and hit the market again.
Boras could confidently cite Correa’s durability; he had played in 342 of a possible 384 games because the start of the 2020 season. However the 2014 injury, which occurred when Correa was a 19-year-old Class A prospect and caught his spikes while sliding, had surprising endurance as a problem. Correa had a fractured fibula and ligament damage from the incident, but his leg has been sound ever since.
“It was shocking to me, because since I had the surgery, I never missed a game, I’ve never gotten treatment on my ankle, my ankle’s never hurt,” Correa said, adding later, “Throughout that whole month when people were speculating, I used to be running sprints, I used to be figuring out, I used to be taking ground balls, I used to be hitting. So it was more funny to me.”
Boras said the Twins’ medical director, Christopher Camp, had a greater understanding of Correa’s “functional fitness” than surgeons who might base their opinions strictly on magnetic resonance imaging exams.
The Mets were in no mood to elaborate Wednesday. General Manager Billy Eppler didn’t reply to an interview request, and the team issued only a terse statement that was almost comical in its brevity: “We were unable to succeed in an agreement. We wish Carlos all the very best.”
Correa, who would have played third base in Queens, was something of a luxury item for the Mets, who went 101-61 last season and retained all of their starting position players from the postseason. However the Mets’ inability to finalize the deal cost them a highly motivated star who spoke openly Wednesday of wanting to succeed in the Hall of Fame.
Correa, 28, said he knew he needed many more productive seasons to get there. But because the Twins identified in a tweet after the news conference, Correa is off to a powerful start: Only three shortstops within the expansion era (since 1961) have more wins above substitute through age 27 — Alex Rodriguez and the Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Cal Ripken Jr.
Falvey said the Twins’ familiarity with Correa made them comfortable with the danger of the deal, which could stretch to 10 years and $270 million based on options triggered by plate appearances or awards within the prior season.
“This was us attempting to balance among the information we have now and we’ve learned through this process, but additionally our belief within the athlete, how he prepares, how he goes about his work on a day by day basis,” Falvey said. “He’s among the best I’ve ever seen by way of taking good care of himself and influencing others to handle themselves in a way that’s special and different.”
Minnesota finished 78-84 last season but spent 108 days atop the American League Central before the Cleveland Guardians passed them for good in early September. Correa said he had stayed in regular contact with teammates and staff, and spoke hopefully of winning a championship.
If he does carry the Twins to the World Series — they’ve not been since 1991, three years before Correa was born — fans may forget his free-agent wanderings. Within the spirit of Minnesota Nice, they could already forgive.
“All that matters is that I’m here,” Correa said. “I’m going to represent the town. I’m going to represent the organization. I’m going to do it the best way.”