Correa 'searching for perfection,' title with Twins

March 23rd, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- carefully buttoned up his crisp, white home Twins jersey across his broad chest and beamed. He gave president of baseball operations Derek Falvey a big hug on his right, then turned and did the same with agent Scott Boras to his left.

To either side of the table where the group sat down, two television screens looped through a slideshow of photos from Correa's first day-plus in Twins camp, when he made his introductions and did some light activity before he was officially introduced at the press conference on Wednesday morning.

All those scenes were kept under wraps for several days before the deal became official -- despite it being a loosely kept secret, at best, both in Twins camp and at the national level -- but Correa and his new team at last got their chance to take center stage in front of the cameras. It marked the beginning of a new chapter for both the longtime Astros shortstop and an organization not generally associated with free agent signings of this magnitude.

, and sat in the audience, representing Twins clubhouses of the past and future as the Twins made complete their stunning commitment to the clubhouse of the present.

Here's a selection of highlights from the 30 minutes during which Correa, Falvey and Boras answered questions about the biggest free agent signing in club history.

The deal came together very quickly
Though the Twins had maintained constant communication with Boras about several of his clients since the end of the lockout, it took until last Friday -- hours before the deal was reached -- for the Twins to get on the phone with Boras with the understanding that an opportunity existed that might not have been there before with regard to Correa. Not wanting to miss out on that chance, the Twins ramped up the pace to, as Boras called it, "warp speed."

After those talks progressed, as Correa remembers it, Boras walked into his house at around 6 p.m. Friday, and by 10 p.m., he was on a Zoom call with Twins leadership, gauging the fit. His wife, Daniella, had been feeding four-month-old son Kylo before the call when Correa walked in. Even before that Zoom, though, Correa had a feeling that things would go that way.

"Babe, there might be a good chance we’re going to Minnesota," Carlos told Daniella before the call.

"Just like that, really? Like, that quick?” she replied.

Yes, that quickly.

It took Falvey about five minutes before he felt it was a solid, natural fit. As soon as Correa got a chance to chat with Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and manager Rocco Baldelli, he immediately felt at home. The manager was particularly important. Correa felt like he could communicate openly with Baldelli and felt the skipper would always have his back, which was a "game-changer" in this process, he said.

As soon as he got off the Zoom call, Correa looked at Boras.

"Let’s make it happen," Correa told him.

The Correa family would need to start packing right away. The whole process, Correa said, took roughly 10 hours, from start to finish.

The lockout might have made this possible
Why didn't Correa end up with a long-term megadeal like the other free agent middle infielders on the market like Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million), Marcus Semien (seven years, $175 million) or even Trevor Story (six years, $140 million)? How did the Twins end up in position to make this happen?

According to Boras, the interest around the league in such long-term commitments had cooled after the long lockout, creating the option for creativity in contract structures that perhaps didn't involve those extended lengths. That opened the door for a team like the Twins -- and they made sure not to miss the opportunity on a uniquely structured deal with a high average annual value and opt-outs after each of the first two seasons.

"It was very apparent that, particularly with all the thought that went into the operation of the game and the ownership, to get the game moving again, that the focus was not there for that type of consideration," Boras said. "And so, obviously, we wanted to build a bridge."

"The timing, the realities of the lockout, that led to a condensed free agent period and then Spring Training, may have just led to some different market dynamics that were at play that might not have been at play if it was a more traditional time in the offseason," Falvey said.

Twins ownership was very enthusiastic
As Correa expressed that level of enthusiasm following the Zoom call, the Twins had also gotten a similarly immediate commitment from owner Jim Pohlad once the deal-making process got to the later stages and the front office called up for approval.

There was no hesitation from the top, Falvey said.

"Immediate support -- there's no other way to describe it," Falvey said. "[Pohlad] said, 'Yeah, let's find a way to make this happen.' I think that is just a true testament to how much Jim cares about investing in this team, trying to compete."

Only 27, Correa will be a natural leader
Two phrases came up, over and over again, throughout Correa's introduction: "championship culture" and "championship mentality." Even at this age, he already knows what it takes, having played in 16 playoff series in his seven-year career -- one shy of the Twins franchise's total since moving to Minnesota in 1961.

Correa doesn't actively try to be a leader, he insists. He simply knows everyone's baseball backgrounds and tries to better understand who they are as people and their motivations on the field -- and how he can help with that. Even considering the Twins finished last in the division in '21, Correa noted that he's been part of a turnaround to sustained success while in Houston, and he's going to push for that kind of urgency while in a Twins uniform.

"We're searching for perfection," Correa said. "Every infield we take, every round of BP we take, every rep we take in the cage, we're looking for something. We're working with a purpose, and that's what I want to preach to the guys here. Just don't work through the motions."

It's no coincidence that Lewis was sitting in the audience watching Correa; the pair of No. 1 selections will be spending plenty of time with each other this camp as the latter helps the former complete his development following two missed seasons due to the pandemic and injury.

"He reminds me a lot of myself when I was in the Minor Leagues, right?" Correa said. "And like I told him yesterday, there's some things that I know now that I wish I knew back then when I was in the Minor Leagues, or when I was 20 years old. So, 'I'm an open book. I'm here for you. Whatever you need, just ask me.' But he's a special talent."

Look up the middle
Ten years ago, Correa and went No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the MLB Draft, and they have plenty of familiarity with each other. They went through lots of showcases and pre-Draft workouts together leading into that Draft, and they played against each other plenty in A-ball while Buxton was with Cedar Rapids and Correa was with Quad Cities.

Now, they'll unite up the middle for a team with playoff aspirations -- and it'll make for about as much upside at those positions as one can find in the league.

"We've been having some really good conversations," Correa said. "We've been talking about defense a lot and improving as a whole defensively this year. We talked about so many things and I get to play with such a dynamic player on this roster and such a great leader for this organization that it makes my job easier to have a guy like Byron on your team."