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Impact of Carlos Correa signing with Minnesota Twins

Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins delivered one of the biggest strikes of MLB free agency in the early hours on Saturday morning, signing All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa to a three-year contract worth $105.3 million.

Correa, the top MLB free agent available in 2022, entered the offseason seeking a multi-year contract worth $300-plus million over 10 seasons. While he didn’t find that after the MLB lockout, his deal with Minnesota makes him the highest-paid infielder in baseball.

The huge splash comes just days after an unusual sequence that saw the Twins trade catcher Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers for Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The next day, Minnesota traded its newly-acquired shortstop along with the $50 million owed to Josh Donaldson to the New York Yankees for catcher Gart Sanchez.

Fans waited to see what domino would fall to rationalize the Donaldson trade. They now have it with one of the biggest signings in franchise history. Let’s examine how Carlos Correa will impact the Twins.

Related: 2022 MLB power rankings

Carlos Correa represents Twins’ commitment to defense

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota tried making things work with Jorge Polanco at shortstop from 2017-’20. While his bat warranted a place high in the lineup, his defensive work left a lot to be desired. In 2021, the Twins found a short-term replacement with Andrelton Simmons at shortstop and Polanco shifted to second base.

Defensively, everything worked out just like the organization planned it. Simmons lived up to his reputation with his glovework and ranging, showing some of the same abilities as a 31-year-old that the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels enjoyed in his prime years. Although, age took away some of his wizardries at short.

Outs Above AverageDefensive Runs SavedDef RatingUZR/150
Andrelton Simmons (2021)99%15 (2nd)5.5 (16th)-1.1 (18th)
Stats via FanGraphs and Baseball Savant

It allowed Polanco to play a position he is more well-suited for, strengthening Minnesota’s middle-infield defense. Paired with Gold Glove Award winner Byron Buxton in center field, the Twins’ commitment to creating more outs and limiting extra bases is reflected in their new approach.

While there are defensive weaknesses at third base (Luis Arraez) and first base (Miguel Sano), the Twins have some support behind them. For all his struggles at the plate in 2021, Max Kepler was credited with 13 Defensive Runs Saved when playing the corner outfield with great range and instincts.

This is going to be more important given Minnesota’s catching situation. Yankees’ pitchers didn’t love having Gary Sanchez behind the plate and fellow Twins’ catcher Ryan Jeffers needs time to build trust with the new rotation.

However, it’s evident the front office wants Minnesota’s fielding to be improved in 2022. It’s why there remains a chance the organization finds a better option at third base. As for the move at shortstop from Simmons to Correa, it’s a real improvement.

Outs Above AverageDefensive Runs SavedDef RatingUZR/150
Carlos Correa (2021)99%20 (1st)9.6 (5th)3.1 (6ht)
Stats via FanGraphs and Baseball Savant

All of this is all still without addressing the biggest area of improvement, Correa’s work with the bat.

Minnesota Twins lineup will take huge step forward

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It’s unfair to compare Simmons and Correa offensively, but we’ll do it anyway. Minnesota’s primary shortstop in 2021 ranked 27th among shortstops in wRC+ (56), wOBA (.252) and finished 28th in OPS (.558). Essentially, the Twins expected an out when he walked into the batter’s box.

  • Carlos Correa stats: 26 home runs, 92 RBI, .279/.366/.484, 134 wRC+, .364 wOBA, .850 OPS

That’s not going to be a thing with Correa. Over the last three seasons, the All-Star shortstop ranks 10th in RBI (170), eighth in OPS (.844), fifth in wRC+ (129). Because of his excellence with the bat and glove, Minnesota is landing a player who posted the third-best Wins Above Replacement (7.2) in 2021.

There are also the impressive StatCast numbers for Correa, data that shows he might have even been a bit unlucky last year. He finished in the 96th percentile for expected batting average (.296) and 87th percentile for expected wOBA (.373).

The shortstop change alone will generate additional wins for the Twins. There’s also reason to believe a change of Scenery will do good things for Sanchez. The 29-year-old might be leaving Yankee Stadium, a great hitter’s park, but the situation in New York was toxic for him. A new atmosphere for a team that found success with young hitters could allow Sanchez to be a 30-homer contributor with a .780 OPS.

What’s next for the Twins?

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins have been linked heavily in MLB trade rumors to starting pitchers. While Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea might be cheaper to acquire, ace Frankie Montas should be Minnesota’s primary target. Fortunately, they’ve already had talks with Oakland.

Montas, under team control through 2023, ranked in the 91st percentile in case rate, 75th percentile in fastball spin and whiff rate. He really turned things on later in the 2021 season, posting a 2.24 ERA and 10.35 K/9 in his final 16 starts, If the Twins are serious about competing for the MLB playoffs, they would be smart to acquire Montas as their No. 2 starter.

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