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Planning for a Post Correa Reality in Minnesota


Twins Daily Contributor

The Minnesota Twins are barreling towards the end of their 2022 regular season. With postseason hopes all but dwindling, the clock on Carlos Correa’s decision to opt out of his three-year contract now comes front and center. Minnesota has to get to work.

 

Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Last winter, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine hammered out a deal with Carlos Correa’s agent Scott Boras. Having previously assumed Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be their Opening Day shortstop, the Twins pivoted after dealing Josh Donaldson and freeing up substantial money for the payroll.

Correa was never the expected plan for Minnesota, and he probably didn’t see himself here either. When a $300 million mega-deal didn’t materialize, the opportunity to secure a Major League-record deal for an infielder arose and he had to take it. Boras and the Twins structured the deal in a way that Correa could once again explore the open market this winter. That had to always be his plan and is why he’ll opt out.

Sure, the Twins could’ve made more aggressive actions towards an extension (and maybe they have), but this front office would’ve been negotiating against itself. Knowing that Correa’s true intentions are a long-term pact, it behooves the organization to throw out a number and see where it lands amongst the competition. Maybe the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers are more interested this time around. Maybe the San Francisco Giants or Chicago Cubs bite. Maybe Correa decides to return for a longer period of time in the Twins Cities.

No matter what, Minnesota needs (and likely has already started) thinking about succession plans. It’s pretty hard to replace a player the caliber of Correa, and internally there are few options. Royce Lewis won’t be ready on Opening Day as he returns from a second season in which he underwent surgery for a torn ACL. Noah Miller has been heralded as an MLB-ready defender, but he’s hardly handled that bat at the Low-A level for Fort Myers. 2022 top pick Brooks Lee is finishing this season at Double-A, but it’d be beyond aggressive for him to start at the Major Leagues in 2023.

The developmental staff and front office will have to blueprint a game plan as to what the timeline of succession looks like. Do they want a long-term shortstop brought in from outside? Is Lewis the man waiting in the wings, or is there a different position he’s more suited for? How about Lee? Is he the shortstop of the future, and will that future begin in the season ahead?

Much of what the front office has done from a talent acquisition perspective this season has been with a focus on more than just one season. As they enter into 2023, they’ll be positioned to start kicking in their window with the developed youth. Jose Miranda is a big-leaguer. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff will hopefully be healthy. Josh Winder, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan have now all seen how the highest level works. Punting on the shortstop position with a roster on the brink doesn’t seem like the way they’ll go about things.

It’d be great if Correa was back manning the middle for Minnesota next season, but if and when he’s not, the blueprint to surviving his absence must be ironclad.

 


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Lewis absolutely cannot be counted on if and when he returns. Two ACL tears can't help but have a major impact on his career as an infielder. If he can provide anything, that's wonderful, but no one should count on him as a regular SS going forward. Lee and Miller likely won't be ready in 2023 either.

This club will be just so much farther from contention without Correa, and they were clearly far away even with him. 2023 has to be the start of a true rebuild, so take your lumps with Palacios, let Lewis recover, let Lee develop and see if there's a low-cost SS to be found, either in free agency or through a waiver claim.

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Why enter a market that already has Turner, Bogaerts, and Swanson?

Makes a lot more sense for Correa to resign a newly structured deal similar to what he signed this past offseason.

Twins extend the current deal for 5/165 (so 2 added years) with the same ability to opt out. Protects himself and gives him the leverage of being the lone all star shortstop in the 2023 - 2024 class. Still would only be 29. 

 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Canton Clark said:

Why enter a market that already has Turner, Bogaerts, and Swanson?

Makes a lot more sense for Correa to resign a newly structured deal similar to what he signed this past offseason.

Twins extend the current deal for 5/165 (so 2 added years) with the same ability to opt out. Protects himself and gives him the leverage of being the lone all star shortstop in the 2023 - 2024 class. Still would only be 29. 

 

 

 

I generally concur, although I would only go one added year instead of two. If he accepts that kind of offer and doesn't opt out after 2023 or 2024, then something very unexpected has happened. The Twins would end up writing massive checks to someone who either can't play because of injury or is ineffective.

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I agree Lewis can't be counted on for a ton next year. For one, I don't think he will be ready until mid-season. 2, he has a long injury history the way it is, maybe it is bad luck, maybe he is Buxton's equal. 3, he played here for a couple weeks and while he looked more than ready to make an impact, he will likely take some seasoning before he becomes a true impact player. Look how long it took Buxton to figure out how to hit at the MLB level. Of course, he could be like Miranda and be another stud rookie!

All this said, I LOVED the way he looked playing SS and think he can stick there.

If Correa is not back here is another option to consider. Make Gordon the everyday SS until Lewis is ready. I think the best move for him is to be a super utility player, but after the way he hit this year, I sure think he has at least put himself into consideration for us as an everyday player.

Am I way out of bounds in hoping that Gordon would give you close to league average SS play for 1/2-3/4 of a season?

 

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Someone correct me if I am wrong, but didn't I read somewhere early in the pre season last year that Urshela has played SS in his career?  What would be so wrong with him as a stop gap solution?  We have the control for one more year, and it would be at 9 or 10 mil probably, but he has had a pretty good career so far and might be worth keeping around anywhere on the left side of the infield depending on the need.  We just might regret not tendering him if Correa leaves.  I, for one, hope we can get Correa back on a long term deal.  But in leu of that Gio just might be a pretty decent plan B.  

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1 hour ago, LastOnePicked said:

Lee and Miller likely won't be ready in 2023 either.

If Lee is as good as well all hope he should be ready for a call up next year, he turns 22 before the season and while that isn't old is shouldn't be unreasonable to expect him to get time next year.

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1 hour ago, LewFordLives said:

I generally concur, although I would only go one added year instead of two. If he accepts that kind of offer and doesn't opt out after 2023 or 2024, then something very unexpected has happened. The Twins would end up writing massive checks to someone who either can't play because of injury or is ineffective.

So you are opposed to giving Correa a longterm contract? Because this would be the only alternative vs giving him 8/275 or whatever it might be.

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14 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

If Lee is as good as well all hope he should be ready for a call up next year, he turns 22 before the season and while that isn't old is shouldn't be unreasonable to expect him to get time next year.

IF, if, if, if, if... if wishes came true, the Twins would have been in the World Series again after 1991.

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22 minutes ago, Mark G said:

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but didn't I read somewhere early in the pre season last year that Urshela has played SS in his career?  What would be so wrong with him as a stop gap solution? 

Because his numbers at SS are worse than Polanco's at SS.

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If by signing Correa you have not enough left in the budget to up grade other areas of the team then no, let him go.  Also if they do sign him long term do not include opt out clauses.  If you have to do it like after year 4.  Twins cannot plan if they don't know year to year what's going on with him.  I have a gut feeling they already know his plans.  If they don't they should.  Personally I think he's been good but definitely not worth 35 mil per year.

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My gut tells me that Correa would still want to test the waters for a longer contract come off season. With less impressive stats and the cheating scandal still lingers over him, he'll have a more difficult time to get what he wants. Leaving the door open for the Twins to maybe sign Correa for a more reasonable short term contract.

As a fall back plan my gut still believes that Lewis will come back strong again to be our near future SS. Palacios has shown he can handle MLB SS position take away a few rookie errors. In AAA Palacios has shown he can hit, with time it can translate it to MLB much like Gordon has done.

I don't think that Lee will be able to cover for Lewis yet. I don't want to trust Gordon there either, maybe a back up to Palacios until Lewis is ready if we are desperate.

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7 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

Palacios has shown he can handle MLB SS position take away a few rookie errors. In AAA Palacios has shown he can hit, with time it can translate it to MLB much like Gordon has done.

He might play for a team like the Tigers but anybody that starts a 26 year old career minor league player at short stop isn't being serious about contending.

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I've been trying to figure out what I'd do for some time (assuming he opts out).

1. Extend CC. I just don't see them doing that. They have Lewis and Lee ready by middle of next year, and they can sign a legit player at another position for less. (who/what position, unsure).

2. The real question, imo, is the timeline for Lewis' return. 

If he's projected back "early", I'm ok with Palacios/Gordon as placeholders. Early is May 1 or earlier.

If he's projected back later than that, I try to sign a SS. Maybe even one of the expensive ones. I don't see THAT happening, but it is possible. I haven't checked the non-expensive list yet.

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33 minutes ago, RpR said:

IF, if, if, if, if... if wishes came true, the Twins would have been in the World Series again after 1991.

Isn't that how 23 looks next year If Buxton is healthy, if Miranda figures it out, If AK comes back, If Larnach is the good player we seen for a minute, If Ryan improves, if Ober/Winder/Gray/Mahle aren't hurt, If Maeda comes back like 20 and not 21. If Jeffers can actually hit. If Polanco stays healthy.

Lee is either going to be a stud or not, the longer he spends in the minors the less chance that is likely to happen. Start him in AA and if he gets hot get him up. (Like Atlanta has done with their prospects, minor league prospects don't have to spend years in the minors) It wouldn't be the end of the world if he is not up next year but he better be playing well enough that he is in the plans for 24.

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2 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

I've been trying to figure out what I'd do for some time (assuming he opts out).

1. Extend CC. I just don't see them doing that. They have Lewis and Lee ready by middle of next year, and they can sign a legit player at another position for less. (who/what position, unsure).

2. The real question, imo, is the timeline for Lewis' return. 

If he's projected back "early", I'm ok with Palacios/Gordon as placeholders. Early is May 1 or earlier.

If he's projected back later than that, I try to sign a SS. Maybe even one of the expensive ones. I don't see THAT happening, but it is possible. I haven't checked the non-expensive list yet.

Here is the list from MLB -

Trea Turner (29, 12.1 WAR)
Xander Bogaerts (30, 10.2) -- Can opt out
Carlos Correa (28, 9.7) -- Can opt out
Dansby Swanson (29, 9.1)
Tim Anderson (30, 6.7) -- Can opt out
Elvis Andrus (34, 4.2) -- Can opt out
José Iglesias (32, 3.0)
Alcides Escobar (36, 1.1)
Andrelton Simmons (33, 0.6)
Marwin Gonzalez (33, -0.1)
Dee Strange-Gordon (35, -0.3)
Didi Gregorius (33, -1.1)

I am not sure where they are getting the WAR from?

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5 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

He might play for a team like the Tigers but anybody that starts a 26 year old career minor league player at short stop isn't being serious about contending.

Palacios started with the Twins organization as a very good SS prospect. Mysteriously when traded to TB for Ordorizzi, he couldn't hit even while remaining in the same league. When returned to the Twins his hitting started to come back. The years in TB were wasted, I don't count that against him. Palacios isn't a 26 yr. old loser. While I don't envision him to set the world on fire,I do recognize that he's good enough to hold down SS for a month until Lewis is ready.

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30 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

 

Palacios has shown he can handle MLB SS position take away a few rookie errors. In AAA Palacios has shown he can hit, with time it can translate it to MLB much like Gordon has done.

 

He has a .104 batting average, and his SS fielding numbers make Polanco look good a SS, good grief, he belongs in the AAA and nowhere else right now.

They would do better bring Simmons back, and he is still as good a fielder as it gets.

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I know there has been some disparaging comments about Gordon's ability to play SS. Do we have any data that suggests he's be below average and/or less competent than Polanco? I htink we all agree that Correa returning is the preferred result but that chances of that happening are probably less than 50/50 and perhaps a lot less.  He's played very well down the stretch and it seems like a Gold/Platinum Glove winning SS who is posting a .289/.336/.469 (.834) slash line is going to have a lot of options. Palacios can't hit, like not at all. I don't see him as even a short term answer. We've seen Polanco at SS and he's stretched at best. The minor league guys are a ways away and Lewis is a mid-season 2023 guy if we're lucky.

I think Gordon makes sense IF he can even be average at SS.  He's also position versatile so he can move when Lewis comes back IF Lewis is fit to play SS and doesn't have to move to 2B, LF or 3B after 2 torn ACLs. I'm not sure there are any other short term internal options other than Polanco The FA SS selection is a few high end, verrrrry expensive guys, and a lot of dreck. 

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8 minutes ago, RpR said:

He has a .104 batting average, and his SS fielding numbers make Polanco look good a SS, good grief, he belongs in the AAA and nowhere else right now.

They would do better bring Simmons back, and he is still as good a fielder as it gets.

Rethinking my position & ambition on Palacios, I'll agree w/ both you & Twins DR 2021. He needs to really turn it on offensively until the end of season to be considered as a possible place holder for Lewis. I believe he will sooner or later but we need to look at the now.

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I think they can afford to put a Gordon at SS until another option is ready. There are much bigger issues to hash out. We need 2.5 OF guys. Larnach May or likely may not ever amount to a dependable OF option. Without a better backup for Buxton, CF isn’t elite. Kepler is a 4th OF defensive replacement at this point. It would be cheaper to just keep Hamilton. There isn’t a legitimate MLB catcher on the roster or minors. IF defense was ranked 29th?  The entire lineup is a mess or at least in flux. Time to rebuild. 

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I doubt Correa will be back, so what’s the plan if he opts out?

Extend Correa—not likely, this organization doesn’t want another Joe Mauer.

Sign another SS free agent—the other top 3 SS on the market are Turner, Bogaerts, and Swanson. Swanson offers a fantastic glove with a lot of power, and the average has come up this year. Don’t know how consistent that will be though. Swanson will likely get a smaller deal, but it still could be lengthy. Bogaerts has a fantastic bat but dwindling defense. He’s gonna probably get 5-8 years but around $30m each year, so probably a $150-$250 contract. Turner’s the best SS on the market and will probably get a contract bigger than Corey Seager’s last year. Outside of that it’s just Jose Iglesias, who seems like another Andrelton Simmons in the making.

Trade for a SS—Not any star-studded options, but names pop up. Ha-Seong Kim from the Padres is alright and can play the entire infield, Amed Rosario only has a year left in Cleveland (although they might extend him), Brandon Crawford has struggled so far in SF but seems…suspicious; might be good in a platoon, and Miguel Rojas from the Marlins, maybe his bat could heat up after a change of location cuz his defense is there.

If I were the Twins: Acquire Kim from the Padres for Trevor Larnach and use the FA money to fix the rest of the team

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I fail to see a reason why Correa would not opt out unless he really does like it here and thinks things are going to get better next year.  Even then, Boras would opt him out, tell the Twins they are in the mix if they want to keep him, and look around for the best deal and give the Twins a chance to match.  I just hope the Twins don't wait around until February and miss other opportunities waiting for a decision on Correa.  Also, I am not ready to write Palacios off based on a limited number of games this year.  Miranda and others have not sparkled in early trials and come back and done well--and, no, I don't think he is Miranda, I am just making a point about limited data.  I, too, worry about a second surgery for Lewis and whether that might move him off short to third or a corner spot in the outfield.  Time will tell.

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Zero chance Correa is back, even with the loaded SS class.

The Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers will all be willing to pay.  Let’s say Correa is the fourth man out - there will still be a line of 4-5 teams waiting to throw a deal at him equal or greater to the Twins.  And I’ve said it before, I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a cut in average annual value to play long-term for a legitimate franchise.

If Nick Gordon or Gio are starting a significant number of games at short stop, blow it up completely.  I mean, they should anyway, this roster is a mess and loaded with damaged goods, but holy crap would a season full of Gordon at SS be ugly.

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1 hour ago, Reptevia said:

I think they can afford to put a Gordon at SS until another option is ready. There are much bigger issues to hash out. We need 2.5 OF guys. Larnach May or likely may not ever amount to a dependable OF option. Without a better backup for Buxton, CF isn’t elite. Kepler is a 4th OF defensive replacement at this point. It would be cheaper to just keep Hamilton. There isn’t a legitimate MLB catcher on the roster or minors. IF defense was ranked 29th?  The entire lineup is a mess or at least in flux. Time to rebuild. 

I agree. It's funny how we all thought the lineup would be a strength this year when the season started and it's turned out to be as big of an anchor as the bullpen. Injuries do have a lot to do with that but they aren't the only story.  We just don't have the horses at depth and the front line hasn't improved. I wondered when Sanchez and Urshela were hitting 4 and 5 early in the season instead of 7 and 9 where they belong. It just didn't get any better and now is pretty awful. 

Realistically, next year's OF is Buxton, Gordon (unless we need him to play short), and …? Larnach maybe but the last 2 years don't provide much hope of consistency or health. Ditto for Kirilloff and I think it's a complete crapshoot whether he will ever play at a high level again after the invasive surgery.  Kepler is a 4th OF/defensive specialist/8th place hitter on a good team. Wallner has had all of about 25 ABs at the MLB level so he's a complete unknown. Celestino would have to make a major leap to be more than a 5th OF/replacement CF. There is nobody else. 

I think a couple of hitters is just as critical for the 2023 team as a couple of bullpen pieces. I would love to see us get Andrew Benintendi to play LF and Josh Bell to be a 1B/DH. They could hit 4 and 5, move Miranda and Gordon back to 6 and 7, and strengthen the whole thing. 

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