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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

In a surprise, Correa takes Twins deal

Carlos Correa won the A.L. Platinum Glove, an annual award given to the best fielder in his league regardless of position.

By James Wagner

Carlos Correa, the star shortstop who helped lead the Houston Astros to a now tainted 2017 World Series title, has found an unexpected home: the Minnesota Twins.

Instead of landing the massive long-term deal that was once predicted for him, Correa agreed to join the rapidly rebuilding Twins on a three-year $105.3 million contract. The details of the contract were confirmed by a person familiar with the negotiations who was not authorized to discuss it publicly because it was pending a physical examination.

While the deal is far smaller in length and total value than some handed out before the lockout, the benefits to Correa are clear: It has opt-outs after each of the first two years, allowing Correa to reenter the market as soon as next season, and it has an average annual value of $35.1 million. That supplants the deal Anthony Rendon of the Los Angeles Angels signed two years ago, which was previously the highest mark for an infielder.

Only pitchers Max Scherzer ($43.3 million) and Gerrit Cole ($36 million), and outfielder Mike Trout ($35.5 million) have higher average annual values in their contracts than Correa, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Before Correa’s new team officially announced his arrival, Correa changed the photo on his Twitter profile to one of Target Field, the Twins’ home stadium in Minneapolis.

Correa, 27, joins a team that has been overhauled this offseason. After an 89-loss 2021 season, the Twins’ front office remade the team’s infield by trading away Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the New York Yankees for catcher Gary Sánchez and third baseman Gio Urshela. They also traded for starting pitcher Sonny Gray.

And now the Twins have added the top-ranked free agent of this offseason, one of the best players in baseball. A cornerstone of an Astros infield that led the team to three American League pennants in five years, Correa had perhaps his best season in 2021.

He hit .279 with 26 home runs and an .850 on-base plus slugging percentage, while also leading the major leagues in defensive wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference. He won the AL Platinum Glove, an annual award given to the best defender in each league, regardless of position. While injuries slowed Correa at times throughout his seven years in Houston, he hit .277 with an .837 OPS and smashed 133 homers. He was a vocal team leader, living up to his hype as the first overall pick in the 2012 draft.

Correa’s short and flexible contract in Minnesota stands in sharp contrast to the one Corey Seager got when he agreed to leave the Los Angeles Dodgers this winter. Seager, a more polished hitter than Correa who is a far less accomplished defensive player, landed a 10-year, $325 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

The news of Correa’s departure reverberated through the Astros’ spring training facility Saturday morning. First baseman Yuli Gurriel, Correa’s teammate for six years, said Correa was “very active” sending messages to Astros players on Friday night and that Correa was having trouble sleeping given the big decision on his plate.

Gurriel said Astros players were surprised and they had hoped that Correa would return. He said he never imagined Correa would end up in Minnesota but he understood the business side of the sport.

“We’re going to miss him,” Gurriel said. “He helped me a lot here, not only on defense but with a lot of aspects that I needed to get better at, like sabermetrics.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker said he heard the news from his wife Saturday morning. He said he didn’t want to talk about it much until Correa’s deal was officially announced, but he said, “It’s not very pleasant news if it’s true.”

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