Twins regroup after Carlos Correa’s departure delivered ‘kick in the gut’


Though the sting of missing on free agent Carlos Correa remains fresh, the Twins regrouped the past few days to determine their new path forward.

After falling $65 million shy of San Francisco’s offer in their bid to retain Correa, the Twins again find themselves in the all-too-familiar territory of having to pivot from their intended target. Believing their division is winnable, the Twins don’t plan to dial it back for the 2023 season, even after losing out on their best chance at acquiring impact talent.

Though their latest play includes further engagement with shortstop Dansby Swanson, landing the 2022 All-Star could be difficult as the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves are believed to be suitors. 

Alternatively, a team source said some current free-agent targets include veteran right-handed hitters Justin Turner, Joey Gallo and A.J. Pollock. The Twins also are engaged on the trade market, with president of baseball operations Derek Falvey saying he’ll use the entire offseason up to Opening Day working to improve the roster.

Justin Turner (Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today)

“There’s definitely a path (to success),” Falvey said Thursday. “We’ve been creative pretty consistently every offseason. We’ll continue to do so and try and put our organization in the healthiest position now and in the future at the same time.

“We have some ideas of paths that we could pursue based on how different things shake out over the next couple of months.”

The easiest road would have included penciling in Correa at shortstop. 

The Twins made a strong effort that kept them in the mix until the very end. Their 10-year, $285-million contract offer would have easily been the richest in club history, besting Joe Mauer’s 2010 extension by roughly $30-40 million when adjusted for inflation.

As of Monday, the Twins thought their offer was competitive with San Francisco’s, which Twins team sources believed was in the neighborhood of 12 years and $305 million. 

But a source said Tuesday the Twins heard from Correa’s agent Scott Boras that they needed to be in Aaron Judge territory with their bid (the Yankees slugger signed for nine years and $360 million last week) to compete. Though a club source indicated the Twins perhaps could have eventually increased the figure to $300 million, they soon learned the Giants made Correa an offer he couldn’t refuse. 

“It’s a kick in the gut,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said. “We thought we had a shot at this guy. We were all realistic to know we could ultimately get blown out of the water. We had a feeling if it was going to happen, it wasn’t going to happen on AAV, it was going to happen on length.

“I don’t think any of us are shocked, but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not disappointed in Carlos. He did what he needed to do. I’m disappointed in the system and the game because I feel like we put forward a tremendous effort. I thought we had a great process. I feel good about the way we showed up and the efforts we made. It just didn’t pan out.”

Same as Falvey, St. Peter said the Twins intend to be competitive next season despite this week’s disappointment. The Twins have pivoted from their original target at least three times in the past five offseasons.

Ahead of the 2018 season, the Twins lost by a wide margin on free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish and later signed free agents Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison along with trading for pitcher Jake Odorizzi. After they missed on pitcher Zack Wheeler in December 2019 despite making their first $100-million bid for a free agent, the Twins signed third baseman Josh Donaldson and traded for pitcher Kenta Maeda. 

Then in March, the Twins made a strong push for Trevor Story only to lose him to Boston just days ahead of Correa falling into their lap and signing a three-year contract worth $105.3 million.

St. Peter thinks Falvey and Thad Levine can do it again, though he acknowledges it won’t be easy. 

“Derek, over his time as our head of baseball ops, has proven to be resilient and to be creative and nimble,” St. Peter said. “We’re probably going to require all of that over the balance of the offseason to get us to where we want to be. …

“I know the offseason isn’t done yet and this will take twists and turns. Some of those moves are probably going to surprise some people. We’ll see where this takes us.”

While Swanson is intriguing, his potential suitors include the only team he’s ever played for (Atlanta) and Chicago, where his new wife Mallory Pugh plays for the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars. If a bidding war were to ensue, the Twins might find themselves in the same position they were in with Correa earlier this week.

Another potential target went off the board Thursday night when the New York Yankees signed pitcher Carlos Rodón to a six-year, $162-million contract. Though the Twins met with Rodón on Dec. 3 and had interest, a team source said the club never approached the levels necessary to sign the left-hander. Those levels may have been more in line with the five-year, $115-million deal paid to free-agent pitcher Robbie Ray last offseason. 

Where the Twins turn next remains to be seen.

Turner could provide the Twins with several important characteristics, notably a right-handed hitting third baseman to pair with Jose Miranda who could provide valuable leadership in the clubhouse. 

The Twins had interest in acquiring Gallo at the trade deadline before he was dealt to Los Angeles and Pollock would provide right-handed balance in the outfield, though he is coming off the worst offensive season of his career. 

Beyond that lies other free agents Falvey wouldn’t divulge and the trade market, though the Twins might not have the prospect capital to acquire players after making three deals at the trade deadline in August. With a thinner farm system, the Twins likely instead would have to trade players from their major-league roster, which could lead to difficult decisions, trading one popular player to acquire help in another area.

“We try to keep every option open for us,” Falvey said. “Like all of these, there’s a lot of competition for a lot of these players both in free agency and trade. As we’ve said all along, the reality is that the offseason doesn’t really end until you get to Opening Day. Sometimes, that’s exhausting, but we have to keep working different paths, different parameters.”

Were it all to fall apart, the Twins could look into trading several impending free agents, including Maeda, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle. But so far, the Twins haven’t discussed dialing back, according to multiple team sources.

(Top photo of Carlos Correa: Brace Hemmelgarn / Minnesota Twins / Getty Images)


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