PORT CHARLOTTE, Florida – Carlos Correa is a Minnesota Twin.
In related developments, anything is possible in Major League Baseball.
The stunning overnight revelation that Correa, the greatest player on this free agent market, presumed $ 300 million man and likely big-market attraction opted for Minnesota Nice on a three-year deal that includes a pair of opt-outs serves as a reminder that no player is truly off limits, no market too small to do massive things, no dream too bold.
Oh, the Twins will remain something of an off-Broadway destination, and perhaps in a more conventional landscape might have been outflanked by a superpower in their bid for the two-time All-Star and reigning Platinum Glove winner. But after a collective bargaining firefight that, 1994-style, aimed to pit big against small and how the latter is hopeless minus restraints on the former, Correa’s $ 105.3 million pact shows everyone has room to maneuver.
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Are big contracts an albatross for smaller-market clubs?
The Twins just deftly moved the most expensive free agent in their history, Josh Donaldson, to the Yankees – along with the $ 50 million owed him – and probably got better in the process.
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The Mets can only employ one shortstop, and Francisco Lindor is already getting paid $ 341 million.
Is mid-market aggression good?
Consider the mood in the Twins clubhouse Saturday morning.
“I can say something I’m 100% sure of: I love him,” slugger Miguel Sano told reporters.
Just a reminder: Talent is talent, and things like deadlines and thresholds and other roadblocks placed to suppress player movement are highly arbitrary, largely phony and always flexible.
Correa’s agreement came in concert with Nick Castellanos’ agreement on a $ 100 million deal with Philadelphia, after his old club in Cincy didn’t much try to retain him and proceeded to dump more talent this past week.
Is Philly a big market? It is.
Is the luxury tax a consideration? Looks like it won’t be for a long, long time.
Castellanos’ deal marks the fourth consecutive offseason that Phillies owner John Middleton made a nine-figure commitment, joining Bryce Harper ($ 330 million before the 2019 season), pitcher Zack Wheeler ($ 118 million, 2020) and catcher JT Realmuto, who re-signed for $ 115.5 million in January 2021. It sent the Phillies soaring past the $ 230 million luxury tax threshold, but hey, there’s a hedge fund billionaire up I-95 they need to compete with.
Bottom line: There are plenty of ways to win. The Tampa Bay Rays may very well still be favored in the AL East, and they have possibly the game’s next great player, Wander Franco, under control through potentially 2033. They were involved in the Freddie Freeman sweepstakes, but losing it hardly extinguishes hope.
As the Rays get set to defend the 2021 AL East title won with a $ 53 million opening-day payroll, the reality is they could finish anywhere from first to fourth in 2022.
Which makes them, in a sense, no different than the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays.
There’s always a path in a sport that somehow endures in spite of itself. And after a grim winter followed by this unprecedented spring, Correa and the Twins proved it’s accessible to anybody.
So long as you try.