A peculiar ramification from the Correa deal

January 17th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Do-Hyoung Park’s Twins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Before the 2019-20 offseason, the largest free-agent contract handed out by the Twins’ front office had been the four years and $55 million dedicated to pitcher before the '15 campaign.

Whether it’s because the Twins were reluctant to shell out top-tier money or because they couldn’t find a willingness on the part of major free agents to come to Minnesota -- often likely both -- they simply hadn’t played in the deep end of the pool.

But now, in the course of two offseasons, the Twins have dedicated a six-year, $200 million free-agent contract to and a seven-year, $100 million extension to (and that’s not to mention the four years and $92 million they guaranteed ahead of the 2020 season, at that time the largest free-agent guarantee in club history).

To what extent could this activity change the perception of the organization?

"Significantly," agent Scott Boras said. "In the sense that, I guess, from my perspective, I used to say this about Toronto, I go, 'Toronto is a top-10 franchise. Great city. They've got all these things going. Why are they not?' And then you look at this area."

Admittedly, it did take extenuating circumstances for the Twins to make those significant deals happen. Had it not been for Buxton’s injury history, he wouldn’t have been obtainable at that price point. Had it not been for the lockout impacting Correa’s first free agency and the medical disagreements impacting his second, he wouldn’t have been available at that price point.

But the Twins’ commitment to creativity paid off in both situations -- and regardless of circumstances, it remains the case that they found a way to get both deals done. Perceptions won’t change overnight; it takes concrete steps. But these would certainly qualify.

"Ultimately, we’re here to win, and Carlos is a huge piece of that," Twins executive chair Joe Pohlad said. "We are collectively trying to get better and better, and so when we looked at going into the offseason, we wanted Carlos to be a part of that, and so that’s part of the goal. Ultimately we landed in a great spot."

And even before the Twins’ creativity came into play, their earnest pursuit of Correa in the initial stages of his second free agency made an impression on Boras, too.

“They offered us a 10-year contract, and we're pretty pleased about that,” Boras said. “This is hard, ownership stepping to this level, stepping to the next level … and to their credit, they got into that realm. Did they get to the top of it? No. But they got into it. And that was always in the back of my mind, because that illustrated to me that Minnesota is ready.”

Will this change the perception of Minnesota with respect to market or competitiveness among top free agents moving forward? Only time will tell. It does take very serious interest and commitment on both sides to get these types of deals done, but this could be a start.

"There's going to be a response, I believe, in the competitiveness and the attendance," Boras said. "And then, all of a sudden, the viewpoint of this, I think, is going to really change because guys like Carlos will be doing what? They're going to be knocking on the owner's door and they're going to be knocking on a lot of players' doors saying, 'We are [competitive].'"