With the Winter Meetings starting this week, the hot stove might begin to heat up. Plenty of the biggest free agents and their representatives will be traveling the halls in San Diego. Scott Boras, who represents Carlos Correa, is usually one of the most active people at the annual event. Besides Correa, he represents other top free agents like Xander Bogaerts, Brandon Nimmo, and Carlos Rodon. Boras can see how the market plays out for his top clients, but the Twins might not have the time to wait on a Correa decision.
Minnesota has payroll flexibility this winter, with around $50 million in payroll to spend. The Twins will likely get outbid for Correa's services, and the team will have to pivot to other options. However, the Twins might end up with no viable free-agent options if Correa's contract negotiations drag out over the next few months. Some top free agents like Jacob deGrom and Jose Abreu are already off the market, and other names may sign as more conversations occur at the Winter Meetings.
Last winter, the market didn't play out in Correa's favor. He switched agents, and the lockout forced him to wait until spring training started to ink a deal. Correa can choose to be patient this winter to see what clubs miss on Aaron Judge before turning their attention to the other top names on the market. Correa likely wants a decision sooner rather than later, but he's expected to sign a contract covering the remainder of his career. It must be a good fit from the team and player's perspective.
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have proven the ability to be patient and let the market play out in their favor. However, that strategy almost didn't play out in their favor last year as Correa fell into their laps as spring training began. In previous offseasons, they had made offers to some of the top free agent starters like Zack Wheeler before signing Josh Donaldson to a multi-year contract. Thankfully, the team was able to jettison the Donaldson contract, but this winter might be the time for the Twins to change their off-season strategy.
Internally, the Twins should set a deadline to sign Correa so they have enough remaining time in the offseason to make moves that put themselves back in contention. The AL Central is one of baseball's worst divisions, and Minnesota has finished below .500 in two consecutive seasons. Things will be challenging for AL Central clubs, with MLB schedules becoming more balanced next season. According to the preliminary ZiPS projected standings, FanGraphs expects the Twins to finish 81-81, one game behind Cleveland for the division title. Obviously, a player of Correa's caliber can be worth enough WAR to push the Twins to another level.
According to reports, the Twins have made multiple contract offers to Correa from six to ten years in length. It's certainly good that Minnesota's front office is engaging him in contract talks, but the team can only afford to see so many free agents sign with other clubs. Bogaerts seems like the player the Twins will turn to after Correa, and the team may need to pivot to him at some point in the coming weeks. If Correa returns to the Twins, it would be in the team's best interest to have a deal in place before the end of December, so the front office can continue to improve the roster around him. Otherwise, the team may be left without few moves to make.
Do the Twins need to set a Correa contract deadline? How long can they wait for him to make a decision? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.