Correa promises ‘championship culture’ to unlucky twins
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Carlos Correa called October “his time.” It’s definitely not Minnesota’s.
The Twins are hoping Correa can fix that, even if his time in Minneapolis is short.
“I want to build a championship culture in this organization,” Correa said.
The former Houston Astros star donned a Twins No. 4 jersey and was officially introduced on Wednesday, five days after agreeing to a three-year, $105.3 million deal that includes post-first and second post-releases seasons.
The Twins have lost 18 straight playoff games since their last victory in October 2004 – their most recent loss came in the 2020 wildcard round when Correa hit a hit at Target Field to complete the sweep of Houston.
Correa is a World Series champion who cemented his playoff stardom last fall by celebrating a home run against Boston by pointing his wrist, looking into the home dugout and saying “it’s my time.” .
“It elevates confidence because that person has just done this before,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
That’s part of why the small Minnesota market opted for such an unusual deal. Correa’s $35.1 million average salary trails only Mike Trout’s $36 million with the Angels, a total in the same range as Baltimore’s entire opening-day projected payroll , Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
The Twins’ ownership financial commitment a year after finishing last in the AL Central stands out in a sport where so-called tanking fueled player acrimony that led to a 99-day work stoppage.
“When I called (Twins president) Jim Pohlad as we got closer to this on Friday, immediate support,” baseball operations president Derek Falvey said. “I mean, there’s no other way to describe it.”
Correa will be baseball’s highest-paid infielder this season — and he’ll have the chance to seek more after that.
The 27-year-old changed agents during the lockout from William Morris Endeavor to Scott Boras. Correa said Wednesday that Boras had offered him a shorter deal that could bring him back to the market soon. Together they set their sights on a stadium where Correa could thrive.
They hit the mark at Target Field. Correa is a career .413 hitter with a 1.205 OPS in 15 games at Minnesota.
“When a player is this comfortable in a ballpark, we knew there was a joint fit,” Boras said.
If he retires after 2022, Correa will join a free agent market that could also include Dodgers shortstops Trea Turner, Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and White Sox’s Tim Anderson. Correa is younger than all of them.
But first, he hopes to make an impact in Minnesota. Correa hit .279 with 26 homers, 92 RBIs and an .851 OPS last season. He’s a two-time All-Star, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, and has an .849 OPS in 79 career playoff games.
“His leadership, character and commitment to this community make Carlos a very special person,” Astros owner Jim Crane said in a statement. “He will forever be one of the great Astros players.”
Correa joins a club with several remnants of the AL Central titles in 2019 and 20, including Byron Buxton, Miguel Sanó, Max Kepler and new double play partner Jorge Polanco. Correa and Buxton went 1-2 in the 2012 draft and have known each other since high school.
“Carlos will now raise him from his experiences and add to this group,” Falvey said.
Baldelli already sees it happening. He noticed that Correa has a precise way of talking around the clubhouse, sparking conversations that Baldelli says dig far beyond “surface level”.
“They make his teammates think and react and do things differently and in a better way maybe than they ever have before,” Baldelli said. “That’s his goal every day when he shows up.”
“When we train,” Correa explained, “we’re looking for perfection. … It’s a culture we want to build here.
Correa has even started coaching his potential replacement, top prospect Royce Lewis. Correa took number 4 from Lewis but repaid it with a Hublot watch. Lewis joined former twins Rod Carew and LaTroy Hawkins to attend Correa’s press conference.
“I know I accidentally took his number,” Correa said. “Royce, sorry.”
Notes: Correa receives $35.1 million per year. He would earn $100,000 for World Series MVP, $50,000 for League Championship Series MVP, and $100,000 each for making the All-Star team or winning a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger. He has a limited no-trade clause allowing him to block deals with five teams this year and then a full no-trade clause.
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