Persistence led Twins back to Correa: 'His heart was here'
By DAVE CAMPBELL
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The fact that Carlos Correa picked richer offers from two other clubs didn't create any ill will from the Minnesota Twins - nor deterred them from trying again.
The Twins truly felt they were Correa's favorite all along, even if they were initially outbid.
"The thing that I took away from him was how much of his heart was here, how much of him he invested in this organization and how much he cared about us as a group," president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.
Correa's first agreement a month ago with the San Francisco Giants fell through over concerns about the long-term health of his ankle. Then a similar scenario, stretched out by the holidays, unfolded with the New York Mets.
Finally, Correa passed his physical exam in Minnesota and signed a $200 million, six-year contract on Wednesday to return to the Twins, who re-entered the most convoluted free agent negotiations in baseball history after the false starts with the Giants and Mets.
"Through that whole month, when people were speculating, I was running sprints. I was working out. I was taking ground balls. I was hitting," Correa said. "So it was more funny to me, that there was all this speculation and I'm feeling great."
Correa agreed Tuesday to a contract that could be worth $270 million over 10 seasons if the All-Star shortstop stays healthy, a unique deal the Twins assembled to jump back in contention. Correa's agent, Scott Boras, credited Falvey for patiently continuing to communicate.
"We are going to be persistent in trying to come up with creative ways to make some things work, even if it doesn't look like on the surface there's an easy way to get there," Falvey said. "We just never stop putting pen to paper. I'll credit our whole baseball operations group for what's on my whiteboard in my office: `What if we do this? What if we push money here? How much is the signing bonus worth?'"
Agreements with the Giants and Mets dissolved over concerns by those clubs about the long-term viability of his lower right leg. Correa broke a bone near his ankle sliding into third base as a minor leaguer in 2014, and he had a metal plate inserted for extra support in the surgical repair.
Correa agreed Dec. 13 to a $350 million, 13-year contract with the Giants, who scheduled a news conference a week later to announce the deal. That was called off hours before it was set to begin.
Correa then agreed that night to a $315 million, 12-year deal with the Mets, and high-spending owner Steve Cohen even publicly confirmed the pending agreement. But the Mets also raised concerns about the ankle after a Dec. 22 physical, and they held off finalizing the contract while attempting to negotiate protections over the next two weeks.
Boras maintained last month that Correa's tibia surgery should not have been an issue. Boras said Wednesday after the news conference at Target Field that the Mets and the Giants both based their concern around a consultation with the same specialist.
"All that matters is that I'm here. I'm going to represent this city and this organization, and I'm going to do it the right way," Correa said.
The Twins had more advanced insight on Correa's health, having seen him on a daily basis after signing him prior to last season in a deal that Correa opted out of to hit the market again after making $35.1 million in 2022.
Correa missed time to an injured finger after being hit by a pitch and a bout with COVID-19. He played in 136 games, batting .291 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs and leading all major league shortstops with an .834 OPS.
"We structured in a way where we hope, if the crystal ball isn't as accurate as maybe what some people are perceiving it to be right now, that this just sets up to be a very similar contract to what we had previously agreed to," Falvey said. "That was the goal all along."
Minnesota's initial offer was for 10 years and $285 million. The new deal gives Correa an $8 million signing bonus and salaries of $32 million in each of the first two seasons, $36 million in 2025, $31.5 million in 2026, $30.5 million in 2027 and $30 million in 2028.
Then it gets more complicated, part of the design to protect the Twins once Correa turns 34. The team has options for $25 million in 2029, $20 million in 2030, $15 million in 2031 and $10 million in 2032, and those salaries would become guaranteed if Correa has 575 plate appearances in 2028, 550 in 2029, 525 in 2030 and 502 in 2031. The contract could be worth $225 million over seven seasons, $245 million over eight years and $260 million over nine seasons.
An option would become guaranteed if in the previous season Correa finishes among the top five in MVP voting or wins a Silver Slugger award or World Series or League Championship Series MVP. He also gets a no-trade provision.
He would get a $250,000 bonus for an MVP award, $100,000 for finishing second in the voting, $75,000 for third and $50,000 for fourth through sixth. He would earn $100,000 each for World Series MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger or All-Star selection, and $50,000 for LCS MVP.
Correa's $33.3 million average annual salary is the 11th-highest among current players, just behind Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor's $34.1 million.
The Twins raved about Correa's leadership during their first season together, and the native of Puerto Rico praised them right back - remarking often about how much he enjoyed the community, the ballpark and the organization.
"They're the organization that truly knew the leadership value in addition to the skill, and what he could mean to a franchise," Boras said.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Updated January 12, 2023