A few of us in the media were in a scrum around a beaming Luis Arraez on Friday afternoon as the 2022 American League batting champ talked about his pride in winning his first Silver Slugger Award ... and how much he looked forward to wearing his glittery red belt with the Twins’ new gray pinstripe road uniform. But at a certain point, it got difficult to hear him over rapid chattering and cackling coming from over my left shoulder, so I had to take a peek.
I glanced over -- and there was Carlos Correa’s face, staring back at me from Jose Miranda’s phone, as the shortstop joined the festivities via a FaceTime call to chat with his old teammates.
To state the obvious, Correa wasn’t there in person because he’s no longer employed by the Minnesota Twins, having opted out of the final two seasons of his three-year, $105.3 million contract to seek the long-term deal he covets. But to many of these Twins, it still feels like Correa is a teammate, because he’s a part of their everyday lives on a group text that has constantly pinged throughout the offseason.
“[We talk] literally every day,” Miranda said. “Baseball. Family. Different types of stuff.”
“We just talk baseball almost all day,” Jorge Polanco said. “We haven't stopped. Sometimes, we talk about family, but it's baseball. … We talk about working out. We talk about getting ready for the season. Things like that. We motivate each other. That's really good.”
It’s the Latin American contingent of the Twins’ roster that maintains that everyday chatter with Correa, but there’s another very important player who also keeps in regular contact with his old teammate: center fielder Byron Buxton. The two superstars grew quite close last season, and Buxton frequently spoke about how much Correa’s advice and mindset meant to him and impacted his mental approach to gameplay and recovery.
“I talk to him just about every week,” Buxton said. “Me and him have a great relationship. I know what he wants to do. He knows what he wants to do. It's up to [the front office] to go back and get him. So that's the bottom line. He wants to be here. It's up to us to go get him.”
Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said earlier this offseason that they remain in contact with Correa and superagent Scott Boras, but the market for premium shortstops is likely to involve many deep-pocketed teams, which could complicate matters for a Minnesota front office that has never inked a free agent to the type of contract Correa will likely command.
Either way, Correa will continue to impact the organization through his offseason defensive and conditioning work with Miranda, as the shortstop invited the younger Puerto Rican to his home in Houston during the first week of December. Miranda has a conflict at that time, but they’ll eventually figure out where else their calendars might overlap.
“We're close with him a lot,” Arraez said. “We miss that guy. We want to have him back. I can't wait.”
“We miss him,” Polanco said. “We wish he'd stay here.”