MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins were crushed after a season of Carlos Correa’s hitting, defense, scouting, experience and leadership. Belief in those attributes was strong enough to make a record amount of guaranteed money for at least the next six years.
They badly needed a jolt to their brand off the pitch as well.
Correa picked up two other teams before returning to Minnesota after those arrangements fell through, but his $200 million contract was still sweet enough for fans tired of waiting two decades for the Twins to win a playoff series.
“There’s certainly a lot of excitement inside the building, from the business side of the action to the baseball side, but I also hear from the fans and the people in town. “He chose to come back here,” President of Baseball Operations Derek. Falvey said:
“Obviously the route was unique and how he got here, but we were always on his radar and I think at the end of the day it always feels good when you’re rooting for a team or somebody. works for the team.”
Correa, making his first winter visit to Minnesota on a weekend that turned out to be particularly cold, was the team’s star attraction at the sold-out annual fan festival that included more than 60 current and former players for autographs and interaction.
“There’s definitely excitement. They believe we’re a team that can make the playoffs and make a good run, so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Correa said Saturday between TwinsFest performances at Target Field.
The Twins drew 1.8 million fans in 2022, their lowest attendance in a season without pandemic-induced seating restrictions since 2001, when they played in the cramped Metrodome and had eight straight losing streaks.
Crowd numbers are influenced by many factors beyond the team’s actual play, of course, but spending 108 days in first place before a late injury-fueled fate wasn’t enough for the Twins to get the masses excited about their club, even after the initial buzz in Korea. A surprise signing for the first time last March.
When the Twins traded slugging champ Luis Aares to the Miami Marlins last week for starting pitcher Pablo Lopez and two prospects, there was a big public reaction to losing the popular player. For team president Dave St. Peter, that wasn’t necessarily a negative.
“I think the level of interest in the 2023 Twins is up dramatically from where we were in November,” St. Peters said, expecting total attendance this year to rise past 2 million.
The Twins reached the playoffs three times in Falvey’s six seasons, but failed to win a single game, extending their record streak to 18 consecutive postseason losses. What this regime has to prove is a willingness to aggressively and creatively pursue improvement, the most prominent example of which is the acquisition of Correa for the second time.
“I hope it’s a feather in everyone’s head that the way he was treated, the way he had his year here, even in a year where we were struggling on the field at the end of the year, he still felt like there was real optimism about it. club,” Falvey said. “And it makes everybody feel better, too.
Third baseman Jose Miranda, a native of Puerto Rico, was one of several Twins in regular contact with Correa during negotiations that included trades with the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets that collapsed due to long-term concerns. about his ankle.
“We were like, ‘Oh, well, he’s gone,’ and then all of a sudden he came back and everyone was excited,” Miranda said. “Because he’s a game changer.”
Manager Rocco Baldelli said he sensed for a long time that Correa would stay.
“It’s not that if you want something, it prevents you from ever having other options or wanting anything else,” Baldelli said, “but I always felt that this was a very important place for him and a a place where he can spend the rest of his time. baseball career.”
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