Twins’ deal with Carlos Correa complicates deal for Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. — News of the Minnesota Twins’ overnight deal with Carlos Correa — a three-year, $105.3 million deal that includes the exclusion of two players — had yet to come. reached Jose Berrios as he got to work on Saturday.

“The twins signed it?” asked the Toronto Blue Jays ace. “Really?”

His surprise echoed around the major leagues when the industry woke up to news of the current contract, and not just because the small-market Twins are an unlikely financial match for the superstar shortstop.

What made the move all the more shocking was that it came after World Series hero Eddie Rosario was not bid until the 2021 season and a sale last summer followed. , highlighted by trades that sent Berrios to the Blue Jays and Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays. Earlier this week, they dropped Josh Donaldson, a marquee signing ahead of the 2020 season, as well as Isiah Kiner Falefa who was just acquired from the New York Yankees.

They didn’t seem like a team gearing up to acquire a game-changer like Correa.

“You know what? It’s surprising because of the way they rebuilt the team and then they spent the money,” Berrios said. it’s not the same as we had for the last three or four years, you know what I mean? It’s a sport that we love, that we are passionate about, but at the same time, it’s a business and they know manage the business.

That they would stretch financially to land Correa, who is sure not to pursue the long-term megadeal he didn’t get this winter if he does well this season, when they didn’t extend Berrios, a beloved local star who was embedded into the fabric of the franchise, is all the more curious.

In November general manager meetings, Derek Falvey, the Twins’ executive vice president and chief baseball officer, said the parties had explored an extension and “we felt that (Berrios testing free agency after 2022) was going to be the case where we were. ”

Still, Berrios needed just two months with the Blue Jays to settle a seven-year, $131 million extension. Given what the Twins are willing to pay Correa, why wouldn’t they make a similar, longer-term commitment to one of the most durable and effective starters in the game?

“I don’t have a thought like that,” Berrios said. “If God didn’t let them get there, it’s for a purpose, for a reason. We moved to Toronto, we enjoy it, we love the city and we had the opportunity to extend my career here. It was God’s plan for me and it worked.

The Blue Jays aren’t complaining either, and Berrios is now one of the franchise’s cornerstones in the current window of opportunity. But with general manager Ross Atkins still looking for more additions, Correa’s deal leaves Michael Conforto as the best remaining free agent.

The left-handed outfielder makes sense for a dominant right-handed formation and the Blue Jays are among many teams that have been in contact about him, according to an industry source. Whether they are determined to add him or do their due diligence is unclear, but their options in pursuing the balance of the pack have narrowed this week.

They had offers on Brad Miller, Joc Pederson and Corey Dickerson, according to another industry source, but each landed elsewhere, which is why barring a dramatic run at Conforto, or a bench move intermediate, offensive help for left-handers is likely to come. through trade.

Jose Ramirez has long been at the top of their wish list, but the Blue Jays’ acquisition of third baseman Matt Champan complicates matters as the Cleveland Guardians star is expected to move to second base. He hasn’t played there since 2018, when Cleveland acquired Donaldson from the Blue Jays at the August waiver deadline, and was said at the time to be uncomfortable with the change.

Forcing a trade acquisition into a tough position change isn’t ideal, especially when the cost will be exceptionally high, but it’s worth noting that Cleveland had a scout at the Blue Jays compound this week to take video of the entire routine of Kirk.

Given all that, raiding the asset base may make more sense for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Ketel Marte, given he could slot right into second base, with the ability to protect center field and shortstop if George Springer or Bo Bichette are running out of time.

But with three more years of club control — an $8.4 million salary this year, plus club options of $8 million in 2023 and $10 million in 2024 — the Blue Jays would have to pay not only for the talent, but also for its payroll – friendly contract.

Doing that without sacrificing one of the club’s golden prospects – Gabriel Moreno and Orelvis Martinez – will take some deft touches from Atkins.

While Moreno is still working through visa issues, Martinez is already making an impression in camp, taking star star Aaron Nola deep in Saturday’s 3-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

His home run came in the second inning, almost the same spot as a first-inning laser thrown by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“I thought, well, if he did, then I have to do something similar,” Martinez joked through performer Hector Lebron. “I just want to feel that I belong here, to feel like one of them, on the same level. Of course, I have to work for it and that’s what I try to do.

Martinez closely followed Guerrero and Teoscar Hernandez, pumping them for information on routines and approaches. His batting practice shows have been unmissable.

“When I see Orelvis at home plate, I think of Hanley Ramirez back then, young Hanley. It’s pretty good,” Guerrero said through Lebron. “I actually think we have a similar swing But what I really like is that he always comes to us to talk or ask for advice – how do you prepare for a match?

The Blue Jays have dealt 2021 first-rounder Gunnar Hoglund as part of a four-man package for Chapman and 2020 first-rounder Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson for Berrios, so they need to carefully manage their system. They can always afford to deal with the group more, but they should also be aware not to narrow the list down too much.

At the same time, they’re going to add, if not in the spring, then before the trade deadline this summer, so subtractions are coming. While there is the future to consider, there is also a present to exploit.

“When I came last year and saw who we had, I said we were already good enough to compete and we can do a lot of good things for the city,” said Berrios, a big step forward in this process. “At the same time, they keep adding. I feel excited and happy with the way they are creating the team. They bring in talented big ballers in trades and free agency. I came here to win. I want nothing more than to win. »

More than ever, the opportunity is there for the Blue Jays, who will increasingly face the challenge of being both built for the present and the future as well.

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