The twins present Carlos Correa at a press conference

It was free agency disguised as a teen drama series: dating and breaking up, abandoned suitors, broken promises, whirlwind courtships on both coasts. The saga of Carlos Correa’s next contract seemed so implausible — deals with three teams, each worth hundreds of millions of dollars, all within a 30-day period — that it had to be fiction.

And maybe it was all just a dream, a whirlwind of unfinished storylines that ended up in one place. On Wednesday, Correa rubbed his eyes, looked around and saw Minnesota. Again. He seemed to like the view.

“Kylo is going to grow into Minnesota Nice, which I love, and we’re very excited,” Correa said, spotting his 13-month-old son in the crowd at a press conference at Target Field. “I get more Jucy Lucys, too.”

The Jucy Lucy, a Minnesota-style burger with the cheese inside the meat, is $9.50 at Matt’s Bar & Grill in Minneapolis, meaning Correa could afford more than 21 million of them with his new six-year, $200 million contract with the Twins. That would be before taxes and agent fees, of course — and Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, worked hard for that commission.

On December 13, Boras signed a 13-year, $350 million deal for Correa with the San Francisco Giants, pending a physical. A week later, on the eve of a scheduled press conference, the Giants had still not formalized the deal. They were concerned about Correa’s right leg, which was surgically repaired in 2014.

Boras then pivoted to the Mets, whose owner Steven A. Cohen agreed to pay Correa $315 million for 12 years — again, pending a physical. It turned out the Mets were just as wary as the Giants, and talks about overhauling the deal dragged on well into the new year.

Luckily for Correa, his old team was indeed Minnesota Nice: as Correa traveled the country in search of a new home, the Twins left the lights on for him.

“I feel lucky to be sitting here today,” said Derek Falvey, president of baseball operations for the Twins. “But it was always part of our mission from that point on, when we discovered there was potential uncertainty around the first landing spot, that we might find a way to get it back here.”

Correa, a shortstop who played for the Houston Astros in his first seven seasons, signed with Minnesota last March for a then-record annual salary for a position player ($35.1 million) and the possibility of retiring after one season. He had a typical Correa season — solid defense, solid on-base percentage (.366), decent power (22 home runs) — and hit the market again.

Boras could confidently cite Correa’s durability; he had played 342 out of a possible 384 games since the start of the 2020 season. But the 2014 injury, which happened when Correa was a 19-year-old Class A prospect and caught his spikes while slipping, had stamina surprising as a problem. Correa suffered a fractured fibula and ligament damage from the incident, but his leg has been healthy since.

“It was shocking to me, because since I had the operation I have never missed a game, I have never had ankle treatment, my ankle has never hurt. “, Correa said, adding later, “Throughout that month where people were speculating, I was running sprints, I was training, I was taking ground balls, I was hitting. So it was funnier for Me.

Boras said Twins medical director Christopher Camp had a better understanding of Correa’s “functional form” than surgeons who might base their opinions strictly on magnetic resonance imaging exams.

The Mets were in no mood to give details Wednesday. General Manager Billy Eppler declined a request for an interview and the team only released a terse statement that was almost comical in its brevity: “We couldn’t reach an agreement. We wish Carlos the best.

Correa, who would have played third base at Queens, was something of a luxury item for the Mets, who went 101-61 last season and retained all of their starting position players from the playoffs. But the Mets’ inability to finalize the deal cost them a highly motivated star who spoke openly Wednesday about wanting to make the Hall of Fame.

Correa, 28, said he knows he needs many more productive seasons to get there. But as the Twins pointed out in a tweet after the press conference, Correa got off to a good start: Only three shortstops in the expansion era (since 1961) have more wins than the replacement so far. at the age of 27 – Alex Rodriguez and Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Cal Ripken Jr.

Falvey said the Twins’ familiarity with Correa made them comfortable with the risk of the deal, which could span 10 years and $270 million depending on options triggered by set appearances or awards. during the previous season.

“It was us trying to balance some of the information that we have and learned through this process, but also our trust in the athlete, how he prepares, how he does his day-to-day job” , Falvey said. “He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen in terms of taking care of himself and influencing others to take care of themselves in a special and different way.”

Minnesota finished 78-84 last season but spent 108 days atop American League Central before the Cleveland Guardians overtook them for good in early September. Correa said he stayed in regular contact with his teammates and staff and hoped to win a championship.

If he takes the Twins to the World Series — they haven’t been since 1991, three years before Correa was born — fans might forget about his free-agent wanderings. In the spirit of Minnesota Nice, they can already forgive.

“All that matters is that I’m here,” Correa said. “I will represent the city. I will represent the organization. I’ll do it the right way.

nytimes sport

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