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MLB: What next for Carlos Correa?

Shortstop Carlos Correa officially opted out of his deal with the Minnesota Twins he signed at the start of the 2022 season.

Correa signed a three-year, $105million deal with the Twins with an opt-out after one season. The 28-year-old has become a free agent again, so where to next? 

Twins are still interested

Correa batted .291 this season with 22 home runs in 136 games. His wins above replacement stat, or WAR, was 5.4, the fourth highest of his career. WAR tracks how many wins a player added to a team over what replacement player would have. Correa’s WAR was higher than any other Twins player this year.

The fact that Correa is back on the open market puts Minnesota in competition with the rest of the league for his services. The Twins’ ownership and the front office have spoken about their desire to bring Correa back to Minnesota, although they will be up against the big-spenders of the league.

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Unlike last offseason when Correa, the former first overall pick, settled for a three-year guarantee to secure the highest per-year salary for a free agent position player in MLB history, he is expected to command a long-term deal this winter.

The Twins have not usually made a long-term commitment to any player, other than Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184million extension in March 2010, but have only done it on two other occasions. Correa and $100million for Byron Buxton, both last offseason.

Correa is the number two free agent of the winter (Aaron Judge is number one) and is predicted for a nine-year deal worth $288million.

Correa is the youngest of the four top open market options at the position. Dansby Swansby is 29, while Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts will be 30. Correa led that group with a .467 slugging mark last season.

Keeping Correa would be high on the list of the Twins’ front office this winter. However, Bogaerts would be second on that list according to some pundits. Some have predicted that the Twins are likely to pivot to that player if they fail to retain Correa on their roster. However, they would have to fight Boston for Bogaerts who remain interested in keeping him, while the Philadelphia Phillies keep a watching brief over matters, requiring a shortstop themselves.

The Twins did acquire Kyle Farmer from the Cincinnati Reds last week, more of an insurance mark, should they fail to acquire any of the four free shortstops available on the free agency market.

The Minnesota Twins are 66/1 to win the World Series in 2023.

So if not Minnesota, where?

A lot of pundits have Correa moving back to the Twins on a nine-year deal but that would eat up a lot of their already short payroll for 2023. So where could he end up?

The Baltimore Orioles have been strongly rumoured to want to acquire a shortstop and with a franchise that is upwardly mobile now, doing better than the predicted last season. The Orioles fell short of the playoffs last season, but the fact that they were a contender in the first place suggests they are, after a long time, following a long-rebuild, heading in the right direction.

After winning 31 more games in 2022 than the previous year, pushing them up to their first winning record since 2016, the Orioles are ready to move up to contender status. They could spend a fortune in free agency as their payroll sits at only $33.8million at the moment according to Baseball-Reference.

With catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Gunnar Henderson, we’ve already seen the start of the wave of prospects hitting the big leagues; adding Correa would give them a huge lift in the clubhouse for a long time.

Would the San Francisco Giants be an option for Correa? There is no doubt that they are making waves towards Aaron Judge coming home right now. They would also have to move Brandon Crawford off shortstop, but Correa is an immediate upgrade. Having shed the payroll over the past two seasons, the Giants are going to spend big on someone, would it be Correa though?

Word has it that the Chicago Cubs are ready to go again after re-stocking the farm system, shedding some payroll and preparing for a contention season. They would be after one of the shortstops on the free agency market and who is to say that couldn’t get Correa?

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