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.