Gleeman: Twins Front Office is tested after the loss of Carlos Correa

In the end, the Twins’ greatest fears came true when the Giants decided to blow them out of the water and offered Carlos Correa a massive 13-year, $350 million contract, which the superstar shortstop accepted late Tuesday night.

So much for that.

It is the fourth largest contract in baseball history, behind only Mike Trout ($426.5 million), Mookie Betts ($365 million) and Aaron Judge ($360 million). Correa also surpassed Francisco Lindor ($341 million), Fernando Tatis Jr. ($340 million), Corey Seager ($325 million) and Trea Turner ($300 million) for the largest contract ever ever awarded to a shortstop.

San Francisco flexed its muscles, brushing aside Minnesota and landing the second-best free agent in the class after being rejected by the judge last week.

Correa did exactly what the twins wanted him to do when they signed him to a three-year, $105.3 million deal last spring with opt-outs after the first and second years. He was one of MLB’s best shortstops, hitting .291/.366/.467 in 136 games to lead the position in OPS. And then he got out and re-entered freelance at the age of 28 in search of the mega deal he didn’t get last offseason.

What the twins hoped was that Correa would enjoy their seven months together on and off the field enough that he would see Minnesota as a viable long-term home and perhaps be convinced to choose their contract offer over similar deals from other, bigger market teams. Ultimately, his feelings about Minnesota didn’t matter as the Twins didn’t come close to getting the best offer.

the athlete‘s Dan Hayes reported that the Twins’ last offer was 10 years and $285 million, beating the largest contract in franchise history by $100 million. From the twins’ perspective, it was a tremendous, historic, franchise-changing offering. But from Correa’s perspective, that was still three years and $65 million short of the Giants’ proposal.

If all things were equal, Correa might have stayed with the twins, but we’ll never know because all things weren’t equal. Not even close, really. No one should blame Correa for accepting a far better offer from a far more successful team in a far larger market. While it’s disappointing for Twins fans, it’s certainly far from surprising.

It’s also hard to blame the Twins for not beating the Giants’ bid, which likely would have been required to pay Correa around $30 million a season into his 40s. Doing that while maintaining mid-tier payrolls, as the Twins have done in recent years, would have been a tall order, and the team’s ownership has given no hint of plans to increase spending above league average levels.

It’s worth noting, however, that the Twins appear to have offered a slightly higher average annual salary ($28.5 million) than the Giants ($27 million), but were willing to do so for 10 seasons rather than 13. At some point a line has to be drawn. and to do so with an offer that sees Correa’s season through at the age of 37 is logical. But is the difference really big enough to lose?

What will the sport even look like in 13 years? How much will the league’s revenue and salaries have increased? And where will $28.5 million be among the highest salaries? Additionally, the chances of a front office still being in place more than a decade later are slim. Derek Falvey and co. could have been pushing to get Correa back at all costs, making the end of the deal someone else’s problem.

Whether the Pohlad family or the Department of Baseball Operations drove, the Twins drove at $28.5 million per season through 2032, but hit the brakes before 2033, 2034, and 2035. Depending on your point of view, that’s either a commendable financial responsibility or way too focused on a distant future that this front office probably won’t be there for.

There has been much talk of Correa’s inability to secure a long-term deal to his liking, leading to him replacing his agent with Scott Boras during the lockout and falling into the Twins’ rounds in the middle of spring training. In retrospect, Correa probably maximized his earnings, securing a total of $385.1 million over 14 years, with a brief stop in Minnesota between Houston and San Francisco.

If that $385.1 million total were a contract, it would be the second-biggest ever, rather than $350 million, which “only” ranks fourth. Just nine months ago it would have seemed an absurd notion that fans were genuinely and justifiably disappointed that the Twins didn’t hand down one of their biggest deals ever, but Correa’s arrival changed the idea of ​​what’s possible. But only so much.

Now the twins must regroup, and quickly.

If the plan is to move to another star free agent, that leaves only Dansby Swanson and Carlos Rodón, who both dated the twins. Swanson is the natural fallback as a 28-year-old shortstop that comes in at about half the price. Rodón has more potential as a No. 1 starter, but he can cost $200 million, and this front office has never paid a pitcher more than $20 million.

To say nothing about Swanson and Rodón would put the twins in a very difficult position. They would be their best player on a 78-84 team, with big bucks to spend but no star-caliber free agents to spend it on. You could be chasing top unsigned League Two free agents like right-hander Nathan Eovaldi or a big-bat veteran like Justin Turner, JD Martinez or Michael Brantley.

That being said, any major pickups the twins make would have to come through trade, which would cost them valuable big leagues from a roster that’s losing back-to-back seasons and/or top prospects from a farm system that’s already lost a lot of talent at the close of trading. Treading water is far from enough, and now even star-level production of Correa would have to be replaced just to stay afloat.

At the start of the offseason, my assessment of the Twins’ greatest needs was in this order: starting shortstop, frontline pitcher, starter catcher, right-handed outfielder, and setup man. They have fully addressed only one of the five areas, signing catcher Christian Vázquez on Monday to a three-year, $30 million deal while they wait for Correa to make his decision.

Kyle Farmer, acquired from the Reds last month, is also a capable placeholder shortstop until Royce Lewis is ready mid-season. But the twins didn’t add pitching or a platoon outfielder alternative to Kyle Garlick. Add in Correa’s exit and the swap that sent Gio Urshela to the Angels for an underage prospect and the twins have undeniably lost talent since the end of the season.

To advance in any meaningful way, the Gemini will need to add significant talent in several crucial places, which will require some very creative maneuvers and a willingness to go home on trades – Corbin Burnes? Zac Gallen? Pablo Lopez? Brandon Woodruff? Willy Adames? – this can be painful and just as risky as simply signing a great player on the open market.

It’s possible that Gemini could also decide that stepping back towards 2024 is the least bad way to go, but stepping back from what exactly? In six seasons under Falvey, the Twins are 451-419 overall, an 84-78 record per 162 games, with zero playoff wins. They haven’t built enough to tear it down and rebuild it, and that could ruin the already shaky morale of the fandom.

Getting value for upcoming free agents Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle would be logical for a rebuild team, as would buying Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and possibly even Luis Arraez. But that’s an awfully sharp reversal from a $285 million pitch for Correa and would also make spending $30 million on Vázquez look like an immediate misstep. Pushing is a must.

They made a legitimate run on Correa and watched most of the quality free agent alternatives come off the board before that bid was played out. There are three ways left: either sign Swanson or Rodón for big money, or pay the price in players by exchanging for a star. Correa’s re-signing has always been unlikely, so the twins should have back-up plans. Now we’ll see if they can pull them off.

(Photo by Derek Falvey and Carlos Correa: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

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