John Shipley: Twins’ long list of offseason issues starts with Carlos Correa’s contract (2023)

John Shipley: Twins’ long list of offseason issues starts with Carlos Correa’s contract (1)

Raj Mehta / USA Today Sports

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Twins last held a piece of first place in the American League Central on Sept. 4, a tie with Cleveland after a 5-1 victory at Chicago. As the season came to close on Wednesday, that seemed like ages ago.

After tying the Guardians on that Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Twins finished their season 10-20 and, despite a 10-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago, ended their season 14 games behind first-place Cleveland. It was a spectacular collapse for a team that had held at least a piece of the division lead for 95 days.

Only Luis Arraez was able to finish his race on top, going 1 for 1 with two walks and a double on Wednesday to finish the season batting .316 and edge Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for the AL batting crown. He is one of many important pieces coming back next season.

John Shipley: Twins’ long list of offseason issues starts with Carlos Correa’s contract (2)

Over the next week or so, there will be a narrative purporting that the Twins’ remarkable plummet — from first place to 10 games out in just 18 days in September — was deceiving, that the first-place team is still in there somewhere buried under a pile of rushed prospects and free-agent minor leaguers who pushed a wounded team over the finish line. There’s a kernel of truth there but don’t lose the plot. The Twins had their chances to pull away in the Central Division race and didn’t.

In retrospect, the series that comes to mind is May 30-June 2 at Detroit. The Twins had won 8 of 10 heading into a five-game series against the fourth-place Tigers, an ideal time to pad their division lead while the Guardians and White Sox were felled by injuries to key players. Instead, they lost 4 of 5 and only lost a half-game on their division lead.


But that lead steadily and inexorably dwindled until it was gone.

Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine have some heavy lifting ahead of them.

The first task is deciding whether to offer Carlos Correa a long-term contract, which became an even bigger issue for the Twins over the course of the season because a) Correa was really good, second on the team in batting average (.291), homers (22) and RBIs (64) while playing great defense, and b) the Twins had their worst non-COVID attendance season in 12 years at Target Field.

John Shipley: Twins’ long list of offseason issues starts with Carlos Correa’s contract (3)

Correa, 28, can opt out of the rest of his three-year deal five days after the World Series ends and has made it clear he will because he wants a long-term deal. The rest of the offseason begins with that decision; they either have $35 million more to spend next year and need a stopgap shortstop, or they’re set at short for the next seven or so years and have solidified a lineup that proved potent when all the pieces were there.

If the Twins want to send the wrong message to fans they hope to win back into the ballpark, offering Correa an uncompetitive package — or worse, taking a pass — is the way to do it.

“More of the same,” fans will say. “That’s what the Yankees, Cubs and Red Sox do, not the Twins. They aren’t serious about winning.”

While it’s never quite that simple, it will be that simple for the Twins.

The organization might need to assess its dedication to limiting starting pitchers’ innings, which didn’t really work for them in 2022. Starters threw a combined 782⅔ innings, more than only Washington, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, and the bullpen’s combined 654⅓ innings pitched were third-most in baseball. But this is the kind of thing that tends to work itself out; if the starters pitch better (their combined 4.11 earned-run average this season was 20th in MLB) in 2023, they’ll pitch longer and the bullpen’s responsibilities will shorten.


More important, and probably most complicated, is the fact that the Twins have a major health and wellness issue. They sent players to the injured list 42 separate times this season and finished without their starting center fielder, right fielder, left fielder, second baseman, first baseman and three starting pitchers. There’s no use in rehashing it except to point out that a team that started the season with built-in off days to keep key players ready for crunch time was without Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff and Tyler Mahle injured at crunch time — and promptly fell apart in September.


Louie Varland and Matt Wallner win Twins’ top minor-league awards

The two Minnesotans — Varland from Maplewood, Wallner from Forest Lake — gave hometown fans plenty to cheer about this season, both in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Both started the year with Double-A Wichita before earning a pair of promotions and debuting in September.

October 06, 2022 06:11 PM


By Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press


After spending much of season leading AL Central, Twins wilt in disappointing final month

The Twins led the Central division for 108 days during the season. The last came on Sept. 4, when they pulled back into a tie with the Guardians atop the division. They finished the season in third place with a 78-84 record, 14 games behind Cleveland and three behind Chicago.

October 06, 2022 08:04 AM


By Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press


(Video) Astros STAR Wanted Trevor Story OVER Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa, with long-term contract in mind, hints at opting out of deal with Twins

Correa, who played in 136 games in 2022, finished his year hitting .291 with a .834 OPS. His 139 OPS+ (100 is league average) is the second-highest in his career. His 5.4 bWAR (Wins Above Replacement per Baseball Reference) leads the Twins, and he quickly became a leader within the Twins’ clubhouse.

October 05, 2022 08:03 PM


By Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press


Twins’ Luis Arraez wins American League batting title

The infielder joined an exclusive club Wednesday, becoming the fifth Twins player to win an American League batting title, joining Rod Carew (seven times), Joe Mauer (three), Tony Oliva (three) and Kirby Puckett.


Twins’ Jhoan Duran caps off dominant rookie season

Duran, 24, entered Tuesday with a 4.6 Win Probability Added, a statistic that credits a player for how much his appearance impacted his team’s chance of winning, per Baseball Reference.

October 05, 2022 09:55 AM


By Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press


Twins’ Luis Arraez inches toward batting title with hit in Tuesday’s loss

Minnesota hitter goes 1-for-4 and maintains lead on Judge

October 04, 2022 11:16 PM


By Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press

(Video) Correa enjoying Minnesota so far


White Sox rally late, hold off Twins

The White Sox rallied against Twins reliever Griffin Jax, who fell to 7-4 after yielding one run on two hits in the seventh.

October 03, 2022 10:32 PM


By Field Level Media


Hamstring tightness relegates Twins’ Luis Arraez, in quest for batting title, to bench again

Arraez entered Monday’s play with a .315 to .311 edge over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who would win the first Triple Crown since 2012 if he surpassed the Minnesota Twins’ infielder.

(Video) Carlos Correa says New York Yankees never made him an offer during free agency | Flippin' Bats

October 03, 2022 09:42 PM


By Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press


TWINS REPORT: Luis Arraez sits with hamstring issue but increases lead in race for batting title

With three games remaining for the Twins (and four for the Yankees), Twins infielder Luis Arrraez and New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge remain locked in a tight race for the American League batting title.

October 02, 2022 07:04 PM


By Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press


Twins fall to Tigers 5-2 in Simeon Woods Richardson’s big-league pitching debut

While the day started inauspiciously — Twins fielders committed three errors in the first inning — the rookie settled in nicely, throwing five innings and allowing just three hits in the Twins’ 5-2 loss to the Tigers (65-93) in the series finale at Comerica Park, a game in which the Twins (77-82) managed just three hits of their own.

October 02, 2022 06:46 PM


By Betsy Helfand / St. Paul Pioneer Press

(Video) What Do Carlos Correa's Comments Mean for His Free Agency?

If the Twins want to use injuries as an excuse for falling apart, they need to take a serious look at how they’re working to reduce them.


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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