As Carlos Correa donned a newly designed Minnesota Twins jersey around his shoulders on Wednesday, he spoke the words that could have ended his free agent saga a month ago.
“These are clean,” he said of the new gear.
Of course, if doctors at the San Francisco Giants or New York Mets had said the same about the MRI results before finalizing commitments of more than $300 million last month, Correa wouldn’t have not been back to Target Field. Instead, a decade-old broken ankle that gave orthopedic examiners pause scuttled deals of $350 million over 15 years (from the Giants) and $315 million over 12 (from the Mets) , sending him and Agent Scott Boras on an unprecedented hunt. a nine-figure contract and, above all, a conviction.
This Correa was in good health. That his surgically repaired right ankle would remain intact for the duration of a ten-year engagement. And that even if the 28-year-old shortstop eventually ran into health issues, the remaining peak years of his career were worth any risk at fullback.
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He found that belief in the same place he left, but for $150 million less than the Giants promised. But Correa’s guaranteed six-year, $200 million deal — which can rise to $270 million over 10 years by sticking to plate appearance plateaus — is an outcome that belies an unprecedented process.
“Travel isn’t always linear,” says Derek Falvey, president of baseball operations for the Twins who signed Correa to a short-term contract in March 2022, stayed in touch with his camp all winter and then, all suddenly provided a comfortable fallback. option.
“Sometimes they are circular.”
Correa’s reintroduction as a twin has shed at least some light on this pilgrimage from San Francisco, to Queens, and finally to the Twin Cities, where the real MVP of this deal is arguably not Boras or Correa or Falvey, but rather Twins medical director Chris Camp, who had access to Correa’s medical records for nearly a year.
When that saga reached its final round again on Tuesday and Correa underwent another physical, Camp raised a checkered flag rather than a red flag, much to the relief of many.
Perhaps the Twins will regret this risk. Or the Giants and Mets will mourn the loss of a true franchise player. Or perhaps it will be as fair as a flawed process can get – that the reduced term and value of the deal match Correa’s viability and availability through 2028.
“One thing I’ve learned throughout this process is that doctors have a difference of opinion,” Correa said at a news conference attended by his wife Daniella, son Kylo, his parents, in-laws and siblings – the participants expected on December 20. when the Giants canceled his deployment to San Francisco hours in advance.
“When the news came I was shocked. It was definitely an emotional roller coaster.
The biggest rises and falls came as Correa had to don a cream-coloured Giants uniform, before doctors raised concerns about the physique. Boras, fearing the worst from a prolonged delay induced by medical fears, quickly pivoted to Mets owner Steve Cohen, who entered the fray too late to beat the Giants but never met a contract at nine numbers he didn’t like.
The deal was done within hours. And undone between Christmas and New Years.
How, the shortstop and his agent wondered, could an injury that never happened to him in an eight-year major league career hijack the deal of a lifetime?
“Very surprising. Especially because in 2022 I did three physicals,” Correa says, counting his physical with the Twins before signing a three-year, $105.3 million contract which he signed. is withdrawn, an independent medical examination with orthopedic surgeon and Dodgers medical director Neal ElAttrache and his discharge medical examination with Camp in Minnesota.
“My body feels great. I’ve never felt better. This whole month of people speculating, I was running sprints, training, taking ground balls, punching. It was funnier for me that people would have speculations when I was doing all this work and feeling good.
Boras, the super agent who could possibly create leverage against a raging bull in a phone booth, suddenly had one of the thorniest negotiations of his career. Correa hired him in January 2022, after Correa’s former agent failed to secure him a deal before the start of Major League Baseball’s 99-day lockdown.
The highly public nature of the Giants and Mets deals – both leaked despite not having been finalized – meant the entire industry was aware of the medical red flags. Throughout it all, Falvey and the Twins have been in hiding, knowing their earnings might not match the Giants and Mets, but keeping a healthy relationship open in case anything happened.
In this case, familiarity bred approval. And it’s clear who now holds the title of Boras’ favorite doctor.
“Dr. Chris Camp, throughout this process, has been the most understood orthopedist,” says Boras. “That was paramount to making good decisions and what the organization can do. It gave Derek and I a very solid base to work from and a clarity that other organizations didn’t appreciate – that depth of understanding of who Carlos was and his medical status.
“We are not here to blame other doctors. But the daily examination is much more important than an MRI. It really allowed the theater for us to put in place a fair and equitable process.
Correa praised the “best agent in the game” and thanked Boras for “probably the hardest job you’ve had to do”.
“I will always appreciate Scott’s work,” Correa says, “because it was a thing of beauty.”
Mutual admiration emanated from across the dais, with Falvey attributing “trust, respect and admiration for (Correa’s) portrayal”, Boras praising Falvey and assistant Thad Falvey for a simple phone call of appreciation from Correa’s mid-season, and Correa enjoying another bite at the iconic Minneapolis Hamburger “Juicy Lucy.”
Now to build on its own Twin Cities legacy. Correa has hit 22 homers, hit .291 and produced 5.4 WAR, his fourth year between 5 and 7 WAR in six full seasons. Despite the seeming impermanence, with an opt-out looming, Correa emotionally invested in the Twins, earning plaudits for his clubhouse presence and top-notch baseball IQ on the field.
Now, against all odds, the relationship has solidified, after a longer December than he could have imagined.
“All that matters is what I do from now on for this organization,” Correa says. “I’m really focused on giving it my all. My family and I are going to be very dedicated to this city.
“And it will last a very long time.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Twins’ Carlos Correa ‘shocked’ Mets, Giants deals fell through