MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have been charmed after a single season by the hitting, defense, intelligence, experience and leadership of Carlos Correa. The belief in these traits was strong enough to commit a record sum to the franchise out of guaranteed money for at least the next six years.
They desperately needed a shake-up for their brand off the field, too.
Korea has picked two other teams before Back to Minnesota After those agreements fell through, but his $200 million contract was still too sweet for a fanbase tired of waiting two decades since the Twins last won a playoff series.
“There’s a lot of excitement inside the building certainly from the business side of the operation besides the baseball, but I’m also hearing from fans and people all over town, ‘He’s chosen to come back here,'” President of Baseball Operations Derek Valve said.
“Obviously the road was unique and the way he got here, but we were always on the radar and I think at the end of the day that’s always good when you’re a fan of the team or you’re someone who works with the team.”
Correa, who made his first winter visit to Minnesota on a weekend that turned bitterly cold, was the main attraction at the team’s sold-out annual fanfest that featured more than 60 current and former players on hand for autographs and interactions.
“There is definitely excitement. They think we’re a team that can go out there in the playoffs and have a good run, so that’s what we try to do,” Correa said Saturday at Target Field during a break between TwinsFest appearances.
The Twins drew 1.8 million fans in 2022, the lowest attendance for a season without pandemic seating restrictions since 2001 when they played in the cramped Metrodome and held a streak of eight straight losing records.
Crowd sizes are affected by many factors beyond actual team performance, of course, but spending 108 days in first place before an injury-delayed fate wasn’t enough for the Twins to get fans excited about their club even after some initial buzz from Korea. Sudden signing the first time last March.
when the twins Traded hitting champion Luis Aries to the Miami Marlins Last week to starting pitcher Pablo Lopez and his two prospects, there was a lot of public reaction regarding the loss of a popular player. For team boss Dave St. Peter, that wasn’t necessarily a negative.
“I think the level of interest in the 2023 Twins is much higher than we were in November,” St Peter said, predicting total attendance this year would increase to two million.
In six seasons under Valve, the Twins made the playoffs three times but failed to win a game while extending their record-breaking streak to 18 consecutive postseason losses. What this system does not have to demonstrate is a willingness to vigorously and creatively strive for improvement, with the takeover of Korea for the second time the most famous example.
“I hope it’s a feather in everyone’s cap with the way he’s been treated, the way he’s had his year here, even in a year where we’ve been struggling at the end of the year, he still feels there’s a real optimism about it and it makes everyone feel better too,” Valverde said. “
Third baseman Jose Miranda, a native of Puerto Rico, was one of several Twins who kept regular contact with Correa during roller coaster negotiations that included deals with the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets that fell apart over long-term concerns about his ankle.
“We were like, ‘Oh, well he’s gone,'” Miranda said, “and then all of a sudden it happens that he’s back, and everyone’s excited. ‘Cause it’s a game-changer.”
Coach Rocco Baldelli said he had felt for a long time that Correa would end up staying.
“It’s not like you want something to stop you from having other options or want something else,” Baldelli said, “but I always felt like that was a very important place to him and a place he could spend the rest of his baseball career.”
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