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5 reasons the Correa deal is important to Twins

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MINNEAPOLIS — When dealing with a player of Carlos Correa’s caliber, it goes without saying that it’s an incredibly important roster move to bring him into the mix — as the Twins did again on Wednesday on a stunning six-year, $200 million deal that can range up to 10 years.

But this deal feels particularly important to this Twins team at this time.

1) It shows the team can spend when needed
It might not be at the level of the 13 years and $350 million to which Correa originally agreed with the Giants, but a team in the Twins’ market isn’t realistically going to reach those heights. A six-year, $200 million commitment is far more in alignment with the Twins’ market size and risk tolerance — and when the opportunity fell back to them, they made that commitment.

The Twins have never made a free-agent commitment of that magnitude. This also establishes Minnesota as a destination for a free agent of Correa’s caliber on a longer-term deal.

President of baseball operations Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine have spoken of feeling that they had a compelling pitch for top free agents, even in what might not be viewed as a premier destination. With that said, the Twins have alluded to the notion that it is sometimes difficult to find a match — but Correa has bucked that to end up in the Twin Cities through his prime.

2) Correa’s teammates wanted this
Toward the end of the 2022 season, when it became clear Correa’s days with the organization could be numbered, many of the shortstop’s teammates made it clear how significant his presence was in that clubhouse — and it started with Byron Buxton, who was open and effusive in his praise of Correa’s influence.

Several of Correa’s Latin American teammates stayed in a group text with him following the season, where Jorge Polanco noted they’d talk about baseball every day. Jose Miranda planned to work with Correa during the offseason on his defense. It would have been tough for many Twins to watch Correa walk.

3) The AL Central is very winnable
The Guardians added Josh Bell and Mike Zunino as they look to defend their 2022 division title, and the White Sox signed Andrew Benintendi and Mike Clevinger. In one stunning move, the Twins have made the biggest splash within the division — and it was needed after the disappointment of a third-place finish.

Though the Twins also traded for Kyle Farmer and signed Joey Gallo and Christian Vázquez, it would have been tough for them to emerge without a top-tier talent, especially with their payroll flexibility and the possibility of losing Correa. This ensures that their lineup won’t be taking a big step back from 2022.

The Twins were a 78-84 team with an injury-riddled roster limping across the finish line eight games out of a playoff spot. That’s the critical range at which every added win matters in playoff probability — and Minnesota just took a bite out of that in a winnable division.

4) The Twins needed the right-handed bat
In the short term, the Twins couldn’t afford to lose a big right-handed bat from a lineup that skews heavily left-handed. Minnesota had a .701 team OPS against southpaws last season (compared to a .725 OPS against right-handers), and Correa’s departure left Miranda and Buxton as the only impact right-handed bats in the lineup.

The Twins did add Vazquez and Farmer to the right side, but they’re not Correa at the plate — and this reunion should really help.

5) The infield alignment makes far more sense now
Before this signing, the Twins were looking at Farmer as their Opening Day shortstop, but they were open about the fact that they hoped he’d be available to move around the infield as needed when they first acquired him from the Reds.

This will make room for that, with Correa immediately slotting back into shortstop, Miranda playing every day at third base, Jorge Polanco at second and some combination of Alex Kirilloff and Luis Arraez at first base. The Twins had a need for an extra infielder with positional flexibility to fill in as needed, especially at shortstop (they used Jermaine Palacios in that role last season), and it makes sense for that now to be Farmer.

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