With a run of three playoff appearances in four years, the Minnesota Twins were expected to at least compete in the lowly AL Central last season. Instead, they finished 16 games under .500 and went from first in 2019 and 2020 to worst in 2021. They don’t look like a legitimate contender in 2022, either.
The Twins haven’t won a playoff series since 2002 and it appears that drought will continue for a 20th season. The pitching staff allowed more than 800 runs for just the second full season since 2012. The offense scored 210 fewer runs than it did in 2019 and the fewest in a full season since 2016. After trading Nelson Cruz and Jose Berrios, the Twins will at least be interesting with a lot of new faces for a sharp and savvy front office.
My hope is teams start to sign more deals like the Twins did with Carlos Correa (three years, $105.3 million, $35.1 million per year). Long-term contracts are a tough sell. You need to get all of the surplus value at the front because the back of the deal tends to look really bad. It’s not my money, but I’d rather overpay for a player’s prime than spread out the cost and be hamstrung down the line.
Correa’s deal includes an opt-out after Year 1, which is a wrinkle that could negatively impact the Twins if he has a big season and leaves or if he doesn’t and stays. I think it’s actually a worthwhile deal for both sides. Given the cost per win in free agency, it takes roughly 4.0 fWAR for Correa to balance out this year’s salary. If he does better, as he did in 2021 with 5.8 fWAR, he could explore the market. He might also like it in the Twin Cities and stick around.
He also might regress, as the 2021 season was his first in three years with a K% under 22%. He did have his best defensive season ever, an area where I would expect some regression. It’s a good gamble for the Twins, especially with a lot of question marks in the lineup.