Twins land Carlos Correa with 3-year deal

Star shortstop brings 'championship-caliber mentality' to Minnesota

March 22nd, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's finally real, Twins fans. Your new superstar starting shortstop has arrived.

Tuesday morning, the Twins at last made official their stunning signing of Carlos Correa to a three-year deal. Terms of the deal were not announced, but a source told's Jon Paul Morosi that it's for $105.3 million and includes opt-outs after the first and second seasons. Correa will be introduced at a news conference on Wednesday morning.

To make room for Correa on the 40-man roster, the Twins designated right-handed pitcher Ralph Garza Jr. for release or assignment.

"You truly never know how things are going to play out, whether that’s free agency and when you’re putting a team together, or any other part of this game," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "You never know what you’re going to see when you show up to the field, and it came together."

The move marks the biggest commitment to a free agent in Twins history, surpassing the four-year, $92 million contract they gave Josh Donaldson two offseasons ago. It also makes Correa the highest-paid infielder by average annual salary ($35.1 million) in MLB history. Coupled with the Twins' acquisition of Sonny Gray from the Reds earlier in the week, Minnesota is clearly postured to try and win big again now, one season removed from a surprise last-place finish in the American League Central.

Correa is the perfect player to bring in for that experience; he's played in 16 playoff series as part of his seven-year MLB career, while the Twins as a franchise have appeared in 17 playoff series since relocating to Minnesota in 1961.

"He has a championship-caliber mentality [in] the way he prepares, the way that he operates on a daily basis. We talk about elevating teammates -- he’s the kind of player that does it with all aspects of what he brings to the table," Baldelli said. "He has a lot of those championship-caliber characteristics."

Correa finished fifth in AL Most Valuable Player Award voting last season, behind Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien and Aaron Judge. He slashed .279/.366/.485 with 26 homers and 34 doubles in 148 games, pairing his ability to hit for both average and power with great defense that earned him 12 outs above average at the position -- sixth among qualified shortstops and well within range of the 16 OAA put up by Andrelton Simmons, a noted defensive wizard, last season. For his efforts, Correa won the AL Platinum Glove, which is awarded to the best defender in each league.

Before this move, the Twins had a glaring vacancy at shortstop. They now find themselves with the top free agent shortstop available on the market all along.

Even in advance of his formal introduction, Correa took the time to immediately endear himself to Twins fans and players alike. After stepping outside to take selfies and sign autographs for the bevy of supporters lining the fences on Tuesday morning, Correa took to the practice field for a hands-on session talking shortstop skills with No. 1 prospect and fellow No. 1 overall Draft pick Royce Lewis, who had been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to pick the brain of one of his favorite shortstops to watch when he was a young fan.

"He approaches everything he does with real intent and real precision to win right now," Baldelli said. "He comes in and has thoughts and ideas and things that he wants to run by our group. He wants to get those things done today, not next week, not sometime soon."

Who could have imagined the path the Twins would take to get here in what has to stand as the craziest offseason in Twins history? They had their erstwhile starting shortstop, when they acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Rangers on March 13, only to trade him away less than 36 hours later in the blockbuster deal that sent Kiner-Falefa to the Yankees as a means to rid themselves of Donaldson's contract.

And following days of rumors tying the Twins to the other top free agent shortstop on the market, Trevor Story (who has reportedly signed with the Red Sox), Minnesota came out of nowhere for a big, short-term deal with Correa that finally addressed their need at the position in the most emphatic possible way.

This signing makes all sorts of sense for the Twins, who not only needed a starting shortstop to help them win now but also managed to avoid blocking the position for either of their top two prospects -- Lewis (No. 1) and Austin Martin (No. 2) in the years to come. Lewis is already on the 40-man roster, coming off two lost seasons, while Martin debuted as a professional in Double-A last season.

Even with Correa's injury history, which has seen him play more than 110 games twice in his six full seasons, it's also tough to argue that there's much risk involved in the deal for the Twins, who had payroll room to spare in both 2022 and '23 after moving Donaldson and his contract to the Yankees.

"Joe Smith, who we just brought in, knows [Correa] and knows how he operates and knows what he’s all about," Baldelli said. "[He] was like, ‘This is the guy that you need. This is the guy you bring in.’ That’s the kind of message I’m getting from people that know him closely."

It appears likely that Correa would be incentivized to test the market again next offseason in search of a long-term megadeal at age 28, without the bevy of other free agent shortstops that made this offseason so competitive at the position. At that point, the Twins will have a much better sense of what they have in Lewis and Martin, and their options at the position moving forward.

With the big players in the offseason having all come off the board, the Twins could still use one or two more moves in the starting rotation, and they've been mentioned as a possible trade suitor for the A's in media reports in the last week-plus, with Oakland likely looking to deal front-line starters Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea.

But what a wild offseason (week, really) it's already been, one that's now brought Gray, Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela and Correa to the Twin Cities.

Correa won't be a long-term fixture at the position in Minnesota, but given where its roster stands, that's not necessarily what it needed, either. There were plenty of reasons to believe a short-term shortstop could be the play for the Twins this offseason -- and, well, they got the best one on the market, period. And who could have believed it would be him?