Impact of signing Carlos Correa with the Minnesota Twins

Thomas Shea – USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins delivered one of MLB’s biggest free agency strikes in the early hours of Saturday morning, signing All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa to a three-year contract worth $100. $105.3 million.

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

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

Fans waited to see which domino would fall to streamline Donaldson’s trade. They have it now with one of the biggest signings in franchise history. Let’s take a look at how Carlos Correa will impact the Twins.

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Carlos Correa represents the Twins’ commitment to defense

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota tried to make things work with shortstop Jorge Polanco from 2017-20. While his bat deserved a high roster spot, 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 moved to second base.

Defensively, everything went as planned by the organization. Simmons lived up to his reputation with his glove work and reach, showing some of the same 31-year-old abilities the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels enjoyed in his early years. Although age has quickly robbed him of some of his sorceries.

Outs above average Defensive runs recorded def. UZR/150
Andrelton Simmons (2021) 99% 15 (2nd) 5.5 (16th) -1.1 (18th)
Statistics via FanGraphs and Baseball Savant

This allowed Polanco to play in a position he is better suited for, bolstering Minnesota’s midfield 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.

Although 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 home plate in 2021, Max Kepler was credited with 13 defensive runs saved playing the outside corner with great reach and instincts.

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

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However, it’s obvious the front office wants Minnesota’s fielding to improve in 2022. That’s why there’s still a chance the organization will find a better option at third base. As for Simmons’ move to shortstop at Correa, it’s a real improvement.

Outs above average Defensive runs recorded def. UZR/150
Carlos Correa (2021) 99% 20 (1st) 9.6 (5th) 3.1 (6 hours)
Statistics via FanGraphs and Baseball Savant

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

Minnesota Twins roster will take big step forward

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Erik Williams – USA TODAY Sports

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

  • Carlos Correa’s statistics: 26 homers, 92 RBIs, .279/.366/.484, 134 wRC+, .364 wOBA, .850 OPS

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

There’s also the impressive StatCast numbers for Correa, data that shows he may 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).

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The shortstop change alone will generate additional wins for the Twins. There’s also reason to believe that a change of scenery will do good things for Sanchez. The 29-year-old may be leaving Yankee Stadium, a big batting park, but the situation in New York was toxic for him. A new atmosphere for a team that has 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 heavily linked 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 top target. Fortunately, they have already had discussions with Oakland.

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

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