Carlos Correa Makes Twins Immediate Playoff Contender
Well, it’s official. Physical and all. The Minnesota Twins have signed Carlos Correa to a long term contract. 6 years, $200 million guaranteed with vesting options. No player opt-outs. Just Correa in a Twins uniform for at least six years.
Sure, it took two failed physicals elsewhere to get here, but who cares? All that matters is the Twins now roster a top-3 MLB shortstop, in his prime, and he’ll play his home games at Target Field for the foreseeable future.
Carlos Correa has passed his Twins physical. Announcement coming today.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 11, 2023
2023 Twins are already better than 2022 squad
This is the second time Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have had Carlos Correa dropped into their laps. Last season, the addition of Correa made the Minnesota Twins a playoff possibility, in a weak American League Central.
Unfortunately, the roster battled injuries throughout the season and Byron Buxton played at 50% health for most of it. Still, it was the starting rotation that hurt them most.
In 2023, though, the Twins should be better in all three phases of the game. Of course, Byron Buxton could miss over half the season and that would completely change the conversation. But if we assume they stay relatively healthy, which we must if forecasting the future of any team, the Twins already look playoff caliber on paper.
2023 Twins version 4.0 pic.twitter.com/mMAdhzKTCp— Nash Walker (@Nashwalker9) January 10, 2023
Infield/Outfield Both Better
Gio Urshela is gone so Jose Miranda will play 3rd base, Jorge Polanco 2nd base and Luis Arraez 1st base. The Twins upgraded at catcher when they signed Christian Vazquez to a 3 year, $30 million deal. Throw Kyle Farmer at SS and it’s an extremely mediocre infield. But with Correa at shortstop, it’s suddenly bursting with talent, potential and veteran savvy.
If we assume Byron Buxton stays healthier in 2023, the outfield is immediately improved from last season. Remember, Buxton’s knee injury forced him to DH for 1/3 of his appearances in 2022.
I am so excited to watch Byron Buxton again this year. pic.twitter.com/TaoxXn09vH— Nick Nelson (@NickNelsonMN) January 2, 2023
Add in Joey Gallo and Max Kepler (for now) and you have one of the best defensive outfield in Major League Baseball. Offensively, the corner outfield presents a likely weak spot. But Gallo provides power the Twins didn’t have a year ago. If his wrist is healthy, Alex Kirilloff could provide an offensive boost at DH, 1B, LF and RF.
Pitching Staff Way Better
In the starting rotation, the 2023 Minnesota Twins look exponentially better off than they did in 2022. Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle and Bailey Ober are all expected to start spring training healthy.
Insert those three into a rotation with Sonny Gray (’22: 3.08 ERA, 125 ERA+) and Joe Ryan (’22: 3.55 ERA, 109 ERA+), by far the best and most consistent starters for the Twins in 2022, it might be top-10 entering the regular season.
Is there a bona fide #1 starter on staff? A guy we can all feel comfortable about throwing out there vs any lineup or any top ace in the league? No, but a healthy Mahle is a really good #2 on a great staff and Gray wouldn’t look bad in that spot either.
Joe Ryan projects as an eventual #2 but already stands as a solid #3 starter. A healthy Maeda should be a really good #3, as well, if he returns near his former form. And Bailey Ober, at worst, is a really good #4 option in any rotation.
Then there’s Josh Winder, Luis Varland and Simeon Woods-Richardson, three exciting young starting pitchers who should come into the 2023 season immediately ready to contribute big league innings, if called upon. It’s a type of rotation talent and depth that this roster hasn’t seen in a long time.
In the bullpen, the Twins have some holes but it’s anchored by Jhoan Duran, who looked like one of the most dominant late-inning relievers in baseball last year. Fellow youngsters: Jorge Alcala, Jorge Lopez and Griffen Jax all have questions to answer but they all have proven high-leverage upside at the MLB level.
And let’s be honest, bullpen is the easiest part of your roster to improve both during the season and in the offseason. Between their farm system and the MLB trade market, the Twins should be able to improve their bullpen with relative ease, if necessary.
More Moves Coming…?
On Tuesday, Darren Wolfson (SKOR North, KSTP) reported that there will be more moves coming from the Minnesota Twins before spring training hits next month. Luis Arraez, Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle have all been in the rumor mill recently and all four are logical options to be moved, for one reason or another.
The Twins have valuable assets sitting in their minor league system, too. 2022 #8 overall pick, Brooks Lee, hit .303 with an .839 OPS and finished his first year of pro baseball at AA – Wichita. He’s 21 years old and should continue to skyrocket through the system.
Royce Lewis (23 y/o) looked more than ready to contribute at the MLB level last season, hitting .300 with a .867 OPS with the Twins (41 PA), until he blew out his knee. Both prospects could be ready for the big leagues by mid-season and both play shortstop.
Could that be where the front office turns, in order to improve the front end of the starting rotation? We’ll see. But even if they don’t, the signing of Carlos Correa has immediately made the 2023 Minnesota Twins a playoff contender and a much, much better team than what took the field in 2022.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan