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Here's How Massive a Carlos Correa Contract Needs To Be


John Bonnes
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We're starting to get hints of exactly how expensive a contract Carlos Correa might sign this winter, and how unrealistic his return to the Twins might be as a result. However, Twins fans' hopes have been bolstered by talk of the team being willing to work out a "creative" contract with Correa. What might that look like?

Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent story on his substack, Matthew Trueblood laid out an excellent example of what a creative contract entails, and I'd like to unpack that. But before we do, it's essential to understand what a baseline contract looks like for comparison purposes. Fortunately, Trueblood speculates on that, too.

It's intimidating: nine years at a $37M average annual value (AAV) totaling $333M. That deal is a "Bryce Harper" contract, meaning it has a no-trade clause for the player and no player opt-outs for the team. Both sides are making a long-term commitment that also gives Correa and his agent, Scott Boras, a record-setting contract AAV for a position player.

Is that too much? I like the way Trueblood responds to that concern:

"Those numbers sound gaudy. Tough. Get used to it. That's the reality of the sport right now, and Correa is going to get that kind of payday somewhere."

(There is one additional factor that raises Correa’s price tag beyond just being a great, young player: unlike many other premier free agents, the Twins can't give him a qualifying offer. So there are no draft picks attached to signing him.)

Even if the Twins have indeed offered Correa the biggest contract in Twins history - say, a 10-year, $270M deal - it would come nowhere close to that deal. It would likely finish in third place. Hell, he turned down a deal like that last year before he even signed with the Twins.

So what about something more creative? That's a route Boras has gone before. Trueblood (you can sign up for his free newsletter here) lays out a somewhat complicated contract structure that gives Correa a record-setting deal but contains less guaranteed money overall. Here's an overview:

  1. It starts with a 4-year deal for $175M, which gives him a record-setting AAV of $43.75M.
  2. After that third year, there is a team option. Either the team can extend the contract for another five years, paying Correa $25M annually through his age 36 season. Or they can be on the hook for just the fourth year, but then….
  3. At some point after the team decision, Correa has a player option. He can choose to extend the contract for three years for $60M or become a free agent. Similar to Correa's deal with the Twins, this provides him with insurance.

There's a lot to unpack here. One way to break this down is to parse what the contract looks like on the extremes and in the middle, and compare it to the baseline contract.

Worst-case scenario - Correa goes downhill fast.

With $175M up front, and a $60 player opt-in, Correa gets $235M guaranteed in this deal. That's worse than he would get with the baseline contract, but he ends up with a seven-year deal that averages about $33.5M AAV. Meanwhile, the team has protected itself on the back end by committing more money on the front end.

Best-case scenario – Correa thrives and continues to increase his value.

Odds are the team opts to extend him, meaning they have him for $300M over nine years, which is also a little bit better than the baseline deal for the team (and worse for Correa) but still is worth ~$33M AAV over nine years.

Middle Scenario – Correa thrives in his prime and then gradually falls off.

Then both sides have decisions to make. The middle ground is that Correa makes $175M and then gauges the free agent market again after his 31-year-old season to see how it values him. He knows he's worth at least $60M over three years by opting back into his contract.

We can diddle about the details; the structure is the most exciting aspect of it to me. I'd suggest that Correa should probably get more AAV up front and try to make the final numbers closer to an average AAV of $36M, but we can debate that in the comments.

But the biggest takeaway is that even if the contract is "creative," it's still likely to be painful to those who are fiscally conservative. The Twins can be aggressive. They can be creative. But ultimately, they will have to be borderline crazy to land a prize as big as Correa. 

OK. Then call me crazy. I'm in. But let's not kid ourselves about what the Twins will be signing up for.


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Don't care how.  Figure out a way to sign the man.  I've been watching the Timberwolves play 14 games and all I keep hearing is that they lack heart.  I've also watched the Twins let their "heart" guys walk.  Rosario, Nelson Cruz.  2021 they have no heart and the only guys with heart in 2022 were Correa and Urshela.  Heart.  Can't measure it.  Can't compete without it.  Can't let those guys walk.  

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Good creative thoughts and ideas,

Keep in mind, in four years $40MM now will only be worth about $25MM in “cost” to the Twins given inflation and revenue expansion.

We could just keep it simple too - 8 years @ $40MM/yr with a player opt out after year 3.  By then Lee, Lewis or Miller will be the new Correa and we will have won at least two WS anyway….

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We need to craft something that guarantees us his prime years, paying him upfront for those years, and also giving him an option later in the contract that would allow him to move to a contender if we haven't been much of one.  I question if he will take a 9 year deal committing himself to us for his career unless he feels he can win here, and I am not sure he feels that.  Let him make his money while we get his prime years, and then let him go to a contender (if he so chooses) in the latter part of his career.  It is a win win for him and the team.  

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Love Correa in what he brings to the table. If we don't land him, I wouldn't want any of the others FAs. Even with being creative it seems too rich for our blood. I'd like to see a toned down version of this contract with Correa having an opt out after his 1st two years.

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33 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

Love Correa in what he brings to the table. If we don't land him, I wouldn't want any of the others FAs. Even with being creative it seems too rich for our blood. I'd like to see a toned down version of this contract with Correa having an opt out after his 1st two years.

This fact, that we know what Correa brings to the team and what he is like as a teammate, put him far and away at the top of the SS FA list.  I am not sure the other SS bring enough to warrant the deal, although somehow marketing TT's slide for extra revenue is an idea... ;)

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I look to improve in other areas. I sign a stopgap Iglesias for 1 or 2 years until Lewis or Lee can take over and then add a Rodon, Contreras and right-handed hitting outfielder after I trade Kepler for a bag of peanuts. 

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It will be expensive indeed to resign him, but what are the Twins plans BEYOND resigning Correa ?  A deal would certainly need to be creative and I like the 4 years with the options kicking in giving both the Twins and Correa future "protection."  BEYOND signing Correa, the Twins need to be very aggressive, because signing him is a WIN NOW move.  Several other moves would need to be made to contend NOW.  Are they willing to make that commitment??

I for one would not mind making a run at Bogaerts if Correa got too expensive.  

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Actually, my biggest fear is that the negotiation with Boras will drag out into the winter as he attempts to play teams off of each other, and in the meantime, other options at short and the rotation will come off the board, and then Correa will sign elsewhere and the Twins will go dumpster diving again.  So, if the Twins want Correa, they should get the deal done early or back away and focus their energy and dollars to sign another shortstop, a rotation piece, another catcher, etc.  

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I would respectfully suggest that the same people urging the Twins to spend whatever it takes to sign Correa will be the first ones in line to complain that there is enough payroll left over to make the team competitive.  I like Correa but not at an exhorbitant price.  If the Twins have money to burn then instead of throwing all that money at one player, invest wisely in the many areas the club has needs.  I'm only interested in signing Correa if their is a real plan to surround him with a good supporting cast.  If we sign him but then go bargain basement shopping, then we blew it.  So far with Correa on the team in 2022 the twins won 5 more games as a team.  Obviously not all credited to Carlos.  Will he draw fans?  He didn't last year as the Twins had their lowest non pandemic attendance in Target field history.  Like they say winning takes care of a lot of issues.  But signing Correa without a good cast around him is likely to produce more losing, not winning.

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9 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

Don't care how.  Figure out a way to sign the man.  I've been watching the Timberwolves play 14 games and all I keep hearing is that they lack heart.  I've also watched the Twins let their "heart" guys walk.  Rosario, Nelson Cruz.  2021 they have no heart and the only guys with heart in 2022 were Correa and Urshela.  Heart.  Can't measure it.  Can't compete without it.  Can't let those guys walk.  

I'd include Jake Cave in that "heart" category as well...but nobody is going to argue he should be an every day MLB player.

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Part of the problem the Twins have in this is with Aaron Judge on the market as well. If Boras has a goal of getting Correa the highest AAV for a position player (again), while also making sure that he surpasses the total value of Bryce Harper's deal, while also having a term length of at least 8 years...then we need to do a deal before Judge or this is going to get out past our skis quickly. Because Judge is going to get a massive deal, and the AAV could easily clear $40M.

I like the fact that the Twins have a good working relationship with boras and aren't afraid to deal with him. I hate the fact there is no market rate in Boras-world, only what Boras wants...and what he wants is to make sure he always gets a bigger deal for his premier free agent than his last premier free agent. There are no discounts in Boras-world for a FA, no matter how much he liked his previous team. There is no market adjustment. Scott Boras has one priority: get the most money, always. And he's damn good at it, and it's why players go to him.

It's also why we probably won't get Correa, even if we make a great offer...because no matter how good of a relationship we have with Boras, he will sell us down the river in a heartbeat to get a better deal for his player. If we make a big-time, stretch our budget until it breaks offer...I'm increasingly certain he will be on the phone immediately with SF or the Cubs, or Philly or the Yankees or the Dodgers to get them to go higher. he won't care if Falvey or Levine or even Jim Pohlad get pissed and tell him that he just effed every other client from getting a deal in MN...because he doesn't need MN as long as baseball has it's current revenue-sharing environment. It's not like the NFL, where teams are on a relatively even playing field. 

I would pay Correa the kind of money in Trueblood's analysis. But if that's the baseline, not what gets the deal done, I don't think the twins will be able to make it happen, because my fear is someone else will just go bigger and say, "9 years, $360M!"

 

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I have heard many MLB analysts on podcasts playing the offseason contract game and the majority expect Correa to sign for less than $300mil. I agree.

Whether it's the Twins or another team, I would guess 9/$288ish, with an opt out after years 2 and 4, gets it done.

I know if was a strange offseason, but coming off his career year, Correa essentially got a 1 year contract, which means an overpay for the market, at $35mil. That is why most estimates on a long term deal are less than $35 AAV. 

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I'm all for a big contract for Correa and going over $300 million.  (After all, not my money. ? )
I think one thing to keep in mind though is that the Cubs would probably have to overpay for Correa, which is probably reflected in Matthew's original 9 year deal of $333 million.  Hard to know though.

I expect the Twins to have some sort of opt out feature though in the next few years and to push hard for an early decision.  Kylo turned 1 in November. Carlos, who has mentioned how important his family is in choosing his contract, should probably aim to move to a new market by the time Kylo is going into school, so roughly 4 years from now.  ?‍♂️

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I don't think Correa gets that kind of $$$. IF that is his asking price, the other 3 SS will sign first, as well as Judge, Verlander, and deGrom. Also the next tier led by Rodon, Nimmo and Contreras.

That doesn't leave a lot of teams or $$$ out there, and he'd be negotiating against himself. 1 SS will get paid more than the rest, but I don't think it will be the last one to sign, which, if this article is right about his contract demands, will be Correa.

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1 hour ago, jmlease1 said:

Part of the problem the Twins have in this is with Aaron Judge on the market as well. If Boras has a goal of getting Correa the highest AAV for a position player (again), while also making sure that he surpasses the total value of Bryce Harper's deal, while also having a term length of at least 8 years...then we need to do a deal before Judge or this is going to get out past our skis quickly. Because Judge is going to get a massive deal, and the AAV could easily clear $40M.

I like the fact that the Twins have a good working relationship with boras and aren't afraid to deal with him. I hate the fact there is no market rate in Boras-world, only what Boras wants...and what he wants is to make sure he always gets a bigger deal for his premier free agent than his last premier free agent. There are no discounts in Boras-world for a FA, no matter how much he liked his previous team. There is no market adjustment. Scott Boras has one priority: get the most money, always. And he's damn good at it, and it's why players go to him.

It's also why we probably won't get Correa, even if we make a great offer...because no matter how good of a relationship we have with Boras, he will sell us down the river in a heartbeat to get a better deal for his player. If we make a big-time, stretch our budget until it breaks offer...I'm increasingly certain he will be on the phone immediately with SF or the Cubs, or Philly or the Yankees or the Dodgers to get them to go higher. he won't care if Falvey or Levine or even Jim Pohlad get pissed and tell him that he just effed every other client from getting a deal in MN...because he doesn't need MN as long as baseball has it's current revenue-sharing environment. It's not like the NFL, where teams are on a relatively even playing field. 

I would pay Correa the kind of money in Trueblood's analysis. But if that's the baseline, not what gets the deal done, I don't think the twins will be able to make it happen, because my fear is someone else will just go bigger and say, "9 years, $360M!"

 

Much, if not all, of what you say is true.  But at the end of the day, Boras, or any other agent, works for the player, not the other way around.  I know, a lot of players just turn it over to the agent and walk away, claiming no knowledge of, or responsibility for the negotiations, but at the end of the day if the player wants to play somewhere, he will play there more times than not if he is good enough.  And Correa is good enough.  So we will see how much he really wants to play here, or if it was just lip service, if our bid is competitive.  But it is our job to make it competitive!!  And creativity is part of that.  If the smartest guys in the room can't make a truly competitive bid, then look to the owner's box, because nothing gets done without that say so.  And that is where my true doubt lies.  

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It is important to remember that the only reason Correa signed a 'creative' contract with the Twins last year is because Boras was going to have to share his cut on that contract with Correa's previous representation.

Part of the agreement for Boras taking on Correa is that the first deal would be short so that he wouldn't have to share as much. Boras was not going to give up half of his cut for a 300 million contract.

Boras will get his full cut on this contract. There will be no more creativity.... just BIG GUARANTEED BUCKS. The highest bidder will win the day and it will not be the Twins

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49 minutes ago, mnfireman said:

I don't think Correa gets that kind of $$$. IF that is his asking price, the other 3 SS will sign first, as well as Judge, Verlander, and deGrom. Also the next tier led by Rodon, Nimmo and Contreras.

I don't think Boras lets Bogaerts sign before Correa.

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For the overall player he is, for the presence he is, for the leader and gamer he is, I'd really like Correa back. And I'm willing to spend a ton to keep him, if I'm the Twins. I was thinking $35M per on a 8 or 9yr deal with an opt out after 3yrs. This gives the Twins a sense of security for those first 3yrs and offers Correa the option for something bigger and longer when he's still only 30yo, plus the security of just sticking with his deal if the market doesn't offer said bigger or longer offer. We're talking a guaranteed $280-$315! And it's up to the Twins to decide if they want to front load a bit more for even greater payroll flexibility 6-7-8 years from now.

But are we really talking about $40M per year for 8-9-10yrs?? That's $320M minimum up to $360-$400M! I just don't know how I can justify a guaranteed deal for something like that.

IMO, the target is 8-9yrs and a ceiling of around $315M. Remember, he's already gotten 1yr and $35M from the Twins, so it's not like we're trying to short change him. I want him, but, at some point, suggested or reported numbers being tossed out there just don't make sense.

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12 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

Don't care how.  Figure out a way to sign the man.  I've been watching the Timberwolves play 14 games and all I keep hearing is that they lack heart.  I've also watched the Twins let their "heart" guys walk.  Rosario, Nelson Cruz.  2021 they have no heart and the only guys with heart in 2022 were Correa and Urshela.  Heart.  Can't measure it.  Can't compete without it.  Can't let those guys walk.  

Well put.  That is at a minimum a start.  

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4 hours ago, TopGunn#22 said:

It will be expensive indeed to resign him, but what are the Twins plans BEYOND resigning Correa ?  A deal would certainly need to be creative and I like the 4 years with the options kicking in giving both the Twins and Correa future "protection."  BEYOND signing Correa, the Twins need to be very aggressive, because signing him is a WIN NOW move.  Several other moves would need to be made to contend NOW.  Are they willing to make that commitment??

I for one would not mind making a run at Bogaerts if Correa got too expensive.  

I agree, Sign Correa now and add more significant pieces.

Some combination of the following:

Sign Michael Brantley for LF.

Sign Jose Abreu for 1B.

Sign  A.J. Pollock as 4th OF, possible platoon work with Matt Wallner in RF.

Trade for Burnes or Woodruff from Brewers: tradeables Kepler, Mahle, Polanco, Garlick.

Sign Willson Contreras as C.

Sign David Robertson.

Keep Gio Urshela at 3B

Get a legitimate ML CF as backup for Buxton in CF. They could also fill in around the OF and DH and play CF on Buxton’s frequent rest days.

Payroll minimum $160MM. It would be expected to rise from $142 MM to about $152 MM anyway so stretch a little and earn the money back in 30,000 plus crowds, increased concessions, parking, etc.

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19 minutes ago, Greglw3 said:

I agree, Sign Correa now and add more significant pieces.

Some combination of the following:

Sign Michael Brantley for LF.

Sign Jose Abreu for 1B.

Sign  A.J. Pollock as 4th OF, possible platoon work with Matt Wallner in RF.

Trade for Burnes or Woodruff from Brewers: tradeables Kepler, Mahle, Polanco, Garlick.

Sign Willson Contreras as C.

Sign David Robertson.

Keep Gio Urshela at 3B

Get a legitimate ML CF as backup for Buxton in CF. They could also fill in around the OF and DH and play CF on Buxton’s frequent rest days.

Payroll minimum $160MM. It would be expected to rise from $142 MM to about $152 MM anyway so stretch a little and earn the money back in 30,000 plus crowds, increased concessions, parking, etc.

All four of those players for one of the Brewer's pitchers isn't enough.....

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I'm not so sure that Correa agrees to the proposed creative contract, unless I'm understanding it wrong.  Is the gist that even if the Twins pick up the extra 5 years for $125M, Correa can still opt out after the very next season?  If so, in what world do the Twins opt for a 5yr $125M contract which runs from 2027-2031, but a non-injured Correa does not immediately opt out after the 2026 season?  Keep in mind that 5 years from $25M a year will be borderline second starter money, not future HOF at the tail of their prime money.  If the Twins exercising that 5 year option negates any opt out for Correa, Correa is essentially maxing out at 9/$300, with a real risk of "only" realizing 4/$175M.

As others have pointed out, Correa is going to want to maximize his earnings, so he's going to want a very clear path to $300M minimum, and this contract creates a real risk to that happening if he gets injured or declines in the next 3 years.

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Whatever happens the Twins should give him a deadline to do a deal.  Every team knows what Correa is and a reasonable idea of what it will take to get him.  The one thing the Twins cannot do is wait around until late December while Correa makes his decision and pits teams against each other.  I know fans won't like it but I think the team should give him a December 1 deadline, if he doesn't sign go put in the work to get Swanson, Turner or Boegarts.  Waiting around will hurt the team, especially if he they wait and he signs with the Cubs on Christmas and all other options are gone and the team is then stuck holding $90M in unused payroll which will then be used to overpay for lesser guys (assuming most big names have signed) exacerbating the loss of Correa.

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2 hours ago, Greglw3 said:

I agree, Sign Correa now and add more significant pieces.

Some combination of the following:

Sign Michael Brantley for LF.

Sign Jose Abreu for 1B.

Sign  A.J. Pollock as 4th OF, possible platoon work with Matt Wallner in RF.

Trade for Burnes or Woodruff from Brewers: tradeables Kepler, Mahle, Polanco, Garlick.

Sign Willson Contreras as C.

Sign David Robertson.

Keep Gio Urshela at 3B

Get a legitimate ML CF as backup for Buxton in CF. They could also fill in around the OF and DH and play CF on Buxton’s frequent rest days.

Payroll minimum $160MM. It would be expected to rise from $142 MM to about $152 MM anyway so stretch a little and earn the money back in 30,000 plus crowds, increased concessions, parking, etc.

I'm all for aggressiveness, but if we do all the things in this post, the payroll will exceed $200M. While I would argue that ownership could afford it if they wanted to, it's not feasible to expect this would happen. I would be a fan of signing Correa and Abreu though....

And the trade for Burnes and Woodruff....the "tradeables" listed have really no trade value at all. You would need to prepare to deal 3 of your top 5 prospects plus someone like Jose Miranda.....and even then I'm not sure it's enough.

I like aggressiveness and passion, but we have to be realistic too.

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I would present 2 offers:

1) 3 years, $38M per year.  Mutual option for a 4th year at $36;

OR

2) 7 years, payable $40, $39, $38, $37, $36, $35, $35, total of $260M.

Something along those lines.

And I agree with posters above that the Twins need to put a deadline on the offer so they are not left holding the bag when the music stops.

And while you are at it, offer Rodon and Boras 4 years at $27.5 and get both of them!

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