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Could Carlos Correa Opt Back in for 2023?


Cody Pirkl
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Carlos Correa has been a good player in 2022, but far from the superstar type that makes $35m per year. In search of a long-term deal in the near future, it’s becoming more and more intriguing to ask: Could Carlos Correa opt back in for 2023?

Carlos Correa has had a weird 2022 season with the Minnesota Twins, who brought him in as a second superstar to hopefully pair with Byron Buxton at the top of the lineup. His wRC+ of 122 indicating he’s been 22% above league average is perfectly acceptable, but in a down offensive year league wide, that number stems from his first sub .800 OPS since the shortened 2020 season.

The way the rest of the season plays out may play a big part in whether Correa opts into his $35m option for 2023. Thus far, the Twins haven’t really gotten the Carlos Correa they expected when they handed out so much money to him this spring.

Lacking in the Clutch
Correa has become a legend because of his incredible clutch play in the postseason year after year. He owns a career .849 OPS in the playoffs with 18 homers and 59 RBI. Historically there are few players in baseball history you’d want up in a big spot when a game is on the line. Unfortunately for the Twins, that hasn’t played out at all this season.

Look no further than Correa’s 37 RBI to see that he simply hasn’t cashed in when given the opportunity. With runners in scoring position, Correa has posted a triple slash of .231/.316/.292. An OPS of .608 which is good for 33 percent below the league average hitter in those situations. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Correa has been a complete non-factor, slashing .097/.200/.129, a .329 OPS. If you feel like Correa hasn’t really had many big moments in a Twins uniform at the plate, it’s hard to blame you.

Clutch stats can only be looked at so closely as they’re typically pretty random. That being said, Correa’s severe failures in big situations has undoubtedly cost him some counting stats. While teams don’t value things like RBI like they used to, Correa is on pace for some of the worst marks of his career in several areas. Not a great time for it considering he’s seeking a massive long-term contract this winter.

Defensive Disappointment
Personally, it’s felt like Correa hasn’t been the gold glove caliber defender we expected at shortstop, and upon further investigation, this turns up true in just about every defensive measure you can find. Fangraphs defensive value measurement pegs Correa at a perfectly neutral 0.0 value added on defense this season. He’s been well above average in this statistic in every season of his career since 2016. In addition, Correa scores a -3 Outs Above Average on Statcast, tied with Tim Anderson, Alcides Escobar, and Isaiah Kiner-Falefa for 26th among shortstops league-wide. He’s also on pace for his worst mark in Defensive Runs saved since his rookie season.

The newer defensive metrics are tricky and many don’t trust them for good reason. Looking at base defensive measures, however, tells the same story. Correa’s fielding percentage of .975 is his worst since his rookie year and he’s on a full-season pace for a career-high in errors.

It goes without saying that in search of a long-term deal at 27 years old, Correa can expect significantly less from teams if they suspect his defensive future at the premium shortstop position is going to be short-lived. At 6 foot 4, Correa had questions dating back to draft day about his ability to stick at shortstop. As he gets into his late 20s, a down season defensively would surely be cited in free agency to try to drive down his price by teams trying to lock him up for the next 8-10 years.

Carlos Correa has been far from a bad player in 2022, but for the price tag he has and the number of holes the Twins roster has had for much of the season, it’s fair to be disappointed with the level of output he’s provided. He’s on a 162-game pace of 3.2 Wins Above Replacement on Fangraphs, and trails Buxton, Kepler, Polanco and Arraez. He’s only half a win ahead of Trevor Larnach, who hasn’t played since the end of June. He’s tied with Sonny Gray who’s thrown all of 79 innings so far this year. Since July 1, crunch time for the Twins who hold a one-game lead in the division, Correa is hitting .183/.287/.333. Yet another measure of the Twins' $35m man failing to meet expectations when they’ve needed him most.

And so in consideration of Correa’s future with the Twins, it’s fair to say it’s still very possible he opts out. Hitting free agency at the age of 28, it’s possible a team completely disregards 2022 and signs the Twins' current shortstop away long-term in pursuit of a superstar. That being said, you can expect Scott Boras to put out some feelers, and if he gets the sense teams are going to try to cite Correa’s disappointing 2022 season to nickel and dime them on a long-term deal, another one year, $35m deal to recoup some value certainly won’t be out of the cards.

Do you think it’s possible Carlos Correa could opt back into the Twins contract in 2023? Do you agree that this has become more likely as the season has gone on? Let us know below!


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This typifies the real issue of how multi year contracts for 27-30 year old stars are a real cr.. shoot.  The talent does not necessarily stay at the early level or increase.  Often the talent slowly melts into being only an average player at his position. How often does the player really earn his big contract in upcoming years? More often than not, he is being rewarded for his past play, not the value he brings in the new contract

 

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Given his interest in what happened and communication with the front office at the trade deadline makes for an interesting prospect of him returning.  He acted as though he had a vested interest, not just for this year, but also for the future with his comments regarding Miranda.  I'd like him to stay, if for no other reason than there isn't another answer at SS right now.

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I'm a fan of Correa and hope he breaks out for the remainder of the season. i also hopes he returns next year. 

That said, I'm not in on a long contract for Correa and if he leaves, the Twins may be able to take a similar short term gamble on another player. Verlander.

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I’ve really enjoyed watching Correa play this year despite his down offensive numbers. I did think his defense is top notch despite the errors the past two games. Only a few teams have the money to sign him to an 8-10 year contract for $300+ million while recognizing the last few years he will be in decline and can’t play shortstop. That includes the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox and maybe one or two others. It’s possible he could opt in for another season but the Twins are not really poised for a World Series run until they acquire or develop an ace. I think that will factor into Correa’s decision and he will leave. 

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If Boras doesn't see a mega-contract out there for Correa, Carlos may well opt in and bet on himself to get that mega-deal after a more successful 2023. The irony is that the worse Correa performs for the balance of the season, the more likely he is to stay with the Twins for the coming season. 

I really would like him to stay and for the Twins to go for it again in 2023. The pieces should be there. 

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35 large would be better spent developing the pitching staff, but its not the Twins' decision to make. I would rather clear the decks for Lewis to return at some point next season, assuming the medicals support that hope.

It seems odd that "...teams don’t value things like RBI's like they used to...", scoring runs seems to be the point of the game.

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It is far more necessary that he stays next year than what follows.  Twins would have bring in another SS next year, until Lewis is ready (assuming Lewis can stay there for the next few years).  I am hoping he stays, leadership is a big factor and he is showing it.  Boris may try and bluff more money out, I am hoping the Twins do not bite if that is the case.  Locking up a great pitching staff is more important than any one player.  Twins have the makings of a very good pitching staff next year (at the currant time only lowing Fulmer(who I am hoping they can resign) and maybe Bundy (who can be replaced).

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Thanks for a well thought out and honest article about Carlos Correa.  He has been a big dissappointment this year.  He with our other " superstar"  part time Buxton have been dragging the offense down for the past several weeks.  People have been treating him like some kind of God that can do no wrong.  Provus on radio broadcast gushes over the way he joins in with pitching conversations on the mound.  So what.  So do other players.  Bottom line for me is I hope he does not opt to stay.  The FO told us and demonstrated to us their repeated philosophy of going for bargain basement pitching citing in part budget concerns.  Yet pay one guy $35 mil.  Made no sense then and even less now with his mediocre play.  I'm wondering if the option to return is Correa alone or if the Twins have a mutual option.  I also find it ironic that the poorer he plays the more likely he opts in due to the huge salary.  I know I'm in the vast minority here in saying I hope he doesn't opt in and the Twins reinvest that money in much more needed areas.  

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22 minutes ago, beckmt said:

Twins would have bring in another SS next year, until Lewis is ready

No, Palacios is really playing well at AAA and is a great fielder. He would be used until Lewis returns. And maybe beyond that if he plays well with Lewis also playing SS and OF.

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1 hour ago, tony&rodney said:

That said, I'm not in on a long contract for Correa and if he leaves, the Twins may be able to take a similar short term gamble on another player. Verlander.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2022/08/justin-verlander-reaches-130-innings-pitched-vests-2023-player-option.html

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How many of the big spending teams need a SS and are able to pay?  

 

Red Sox signed Story and would like rather bring back Bogaerts.

The Dodgers possibly but would they rather spend on the known Trey Turner? 

Yankees are going to be shelling out a 1/2 a billion dollars to Judge, can they have 300+ million dollar deal on Stanton, Judge, Cole also while paying a pretty penny to Rizzo Donaldson and Chapman?  Can they fit a Carlos Correa in that budget?  Would be a giant luxury tax hit for sure.

 

Padres, Detroit, Texas, Giants, white sox, Rays all in long term deals with SS. 

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I still say there's a 0% chance he opts into the 35M next year barring a catastrophic injury. Why opt into that even if he continues to struggle offensively? All it does is take away any chance of finding out what he could get on the market. It only takes 1 team in a full offseason to offer him a huge deal. Nobody thought Jayson Werth was worth much except for the Nats, but that's all he needed as they gave him a huge deal.

I don't think Boras is shortsighted enough to take away all market possibilities for 1 year and 35M. What would Correa have to do next year to make taking away his bargaining power this year worth it? His career OPS+ is 127. He was at 131 last year. He's at 124 this year. He's having a pretty typical offensive year for him. His being 6'4" and the risks that come with that as a SS isn't new news to teams. Corey Seager had even more risk at SS since he's never been the fielder Correa is and he got paid last year (for reference Seager career OPS+ 130 and is 126 this year). I don't see any way Correa doesn't opt out of his deal and see what his market looks like again in a normal offseason without a lockout right in the middle of it with his new super agent leading negotiations now. No reason to limit their options. 

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My hopes are he stays or the Twins find a way to redo and extend his contract. Yeah, pie in the sky. I like pie, though.

Despite that, you can’t always get what you want and I don’t think Correa will be a Twin next year. I’ll be eating that pie to console myself. 

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Very interesting.  Understand your point that should he continue playing as he has, the likelihood of his staying increases.  I don't know what the market is for both other free agent shortstops and teams that both have the dollars and need.  Understanding that is Boras' job, which he does better than most.  Including the fact that everything Correa says indicates he likes it here, a lot, and the possibility increases that he might stay.

From the Twins side of the ledger, not certain if that is good or not.  Are they better off taking the $35M and spending it on pitching, and maybe catching.  When I made a comment like that the other day I got my butt kicked for being specific.  So suffice it to say they should be able to get a couple very good players at positions of need for $45M+.  That includes the savings from Sano and Sanchez, unless they bring Sanchez back for $x.  

As for shortstop, will repeat what I have been saying for a while and that is I believe Palacios would do a fine job both defensively and offensively.  With Lewis returning mid-season, the Twins could put him at short or leave Palacios there if he is doing well and play Lewis elsewhere.

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7 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

My hopes are he stays or the Twins find a way to redo and extend his contract. Yeah, pie in the sky. I like pie, though.

Despite that, you can’t always get what you want and I don’t think Correa will be a Twin next year. I’ll be eating that pie to console myself. 

Guessing you to are a Rolling Stones fan?  Always have wondered if Mr. Jimmy in that song was the guy from Excelsior.

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2 hours ago, FlyingFinn said:

No, Palacios is really playing well at AAA and is a great fielder. He would be used until Lewis returns. And maybe beyond that if he plays well with Lewis also playing SS and OF.

I have not seen the Twins team this year that could handle a .220 - .230 hitting SS with the catcher also being a low average player.  Great teams are deep and can grind AB's.  That is where I want the Twins to get.  Correa if not going to be that expensive on a payroll of cheap pitching next year and for several years after.  I want the Twins to go for it.

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We could use a real evaluation of long-term contracts over the last 10 years.  My sense is that about half of them work out for half the term. I am never in favor of having one player have the max contract on a baseball team. Can't we learn from the California Angels that a superstar is not even me you're going to get to the playoffs. Mike trout is tilted as the best player in baseball and how many times has he got to the Big show? The player that gets you the furthest is a pitcher. Somehow want to look around the league at the Short stops I don't see any big demand right now for Correa. But it is his choice and either way I'm fine. I just want the team to continue to pursue pitcher options.

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Based on his play this year, the odds of him securing a truly attractive long term deal - 7-10 years at $30MM + - have diminished. So what are his logical choices?

A. Stay with the Twins for $35MM and look to improve upon his performance so to get a better long term deal in ‘24.

B. Opt out and get something around 5 years at $30MM.

C. Twins add an extra year at $35MM and give him another opt out option after ‘24.

I think the Twins maybe do C. but I don’t see them offering B.

Having said that, $35MM buys A LOT of relief pitching and we still have Palacios and Lewis manning SS with Miller and Lee on deck.

It very well could could just come down to Correas’s choice and the Twins accept it either way.

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We still have a lot of season left and hopefully playoffs for CC4 to shine.  Let's have this conversation at the end of the year when all the games have been played.

Ideally he takes off both offensively and defensively helping us win.  If he opts out, then fine, we will manage and say thanks.  If he does not opt out we hope for the old CC4 next year.

What if he ops out, tests the market, and then comes back to the Twins on a lesser deal of say 15-20K AAV for 2-3 more years?  That would be an interesting scenario.

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