MLB free agency: Star shortstop Carlos Correa signs three-year, $105.3 million deal with Twins, reports say

Carlos Correa, the best free agent on the market this winter, agreed to terms with the Minnesota Twins, reports Mark Berman of local Fox in Houston. The deal would include opt-out options after the first and second year, so it’s entirely possible it’s just a one-year deal and Correa hits free agency again. the next offseason.

For now, however, the Twins have caused a stir.

Correa, 27, hit .279/.366/.485 (131 OPS+) with 26 home runs last season. He made his second career All-Star Game and won his first Gold Glove Award for his stellar play at the shortstop position. He also finished fifth in voting for the Most Valuable Player award, his best career result.

The Twins have been very active since the lockdown was lifted just over a week ago. They traded wide receiver Mitch Garver to the Rangers, using some of that return with Josh Donaldson to get Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela from the Yankees. They also acquired Sonny Gray from the Reds via trade. Some of the money they made sending Donaldson to the Yankees certainly helped them distribute the money to Correa.

The Twins’ infield now appears to feature Miguel Sanó at the start, Jorge Polanco at second, Correa at short and Urshela at third. Sánchez is the main receiver with Byron Buxton at center. As it stands, the corner outfield and DH spots could be a mix of Luis Arraez, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Nick Gordon and Brent Rooker.

The Twins won AL Central in 2019 and 2020 but fell to 73-89 in 2021.

CBS Sports ranked Correa as the No. 1 free agent heading into the offseason. Here is what we wrote at the time:

Correa has such a talent that if he didn’t exist, a video game player would have created him. He’s a well-above-average hitter who walked and hit personal bests last season, and he did it while hitting top outing speeds on par with world-wide sluggers like Juan Soto. and Yordan Alvarez. Unlike Soto and Alvarez, two corner fielders celebrated more for their work on the flat than on the grass, Correa is a very capable defensive shortstop with a big arm. It’s made of flesh and bone, which means there are negatives to consider. His attendance was spotty earlier in his career, and it remains to be seen if he can maintain his high level of durability (he appeared in 92% of Houston’s games in 2020-21) as he approaches his 30s. He’s also no longer a stolen base threat, like he was when he broke into The Show. (He hasn’t attempted one during the regular season since April 2019.) There’s also the sign-stealing scandal. George Springer’s precedent suggests Correa won’t have a Poe-like moment this winter, his heart pounding like trash can noises as lower-than-expected bids pour in. players in this way they could make an exception for Correa. He may well one day win an MVP Award and, by the authority of this list, is the best player available on the market.

For his career, Correa is a .277/.356/.481 (127 OPS+) hitter. He’s earned about 34.1 wins over substitution, according to Baseball Reference.

Correa reportedly looked for a deal somewhere in the 10-year and/or $300 million range, but the market didn’t quite work out that way. He walks away with the highest average annual salary ever on a free agent contract for an infielder at $35.1 million per season. And if he has a big year in 2022, he’s likely to give the 10-year deal another chance by stepping down.

As for the Astros, they’ll either pivot to another free agent, shortstop Trevor Story — who will certainly be cheaper than Correa on a per-season basis — or prospect Jeremy Peña.

Neal T. Doss