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Third Time’s The Charm

Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Correa is heading back to Minnesota. Seriously, it’s actually happening this time. After long-term agreements fell through with both the Giants and Mets due to medical concerns with his surgically-repaired right ankle, the superstar shortstop wrapped up one of the most bizarre offseason sagas in baseball history on Wednesday by officially re-signing with the Twins on a six-year, $200 million contract. The deal also includes four years of vesting options, which could increase the total value of the contract to $270 million. The vesting options are valued at $25 million for 2029, $20 million for 2030, $15 million for 2031, and $10 million for 2032.

From a fantasy perspective, Correa’s lack of stolen bases limits his realistic ceiling, but he’s one of the more reliable four-category fantasy contributors at a loaded shortstop position. He should be selected as a borderline top-12 shortstop in fantasy drafts this spring. The 28-year-old franchise cornerstone batted .291/.366/.467 with 22 home runs across 590 plate appearances last season in his Twins debut and rejoins an exciting offensive nucleus in Minnesota that also features Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez, Jose Miranda, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Nick Gordon, Alex Kirilloff and offseason additions Joey Gallo and Christian Vázquez. Among the premier defensive shortstops in baseball, Correa’s stabilizing presence up the middle should also have a significant impact on the Twins’ pitching staff, especially from a run-prevention standpoint, for starting pitchers Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Bailey Ober and Kenta Maeda.

The fantasy ramifications of the Correa saga reaching its final conclusion are wide-ranging and significantly impact multiple franchises. Perhaps the most notable developments will take place in New York this season where veteran Eduardo Escobar is expected to remain the Mets’ starting third baseman, barring an unexpected blockbuster trade prior to Opening Day, and top prospect Brett Baty will have a much clearer avenue to consistent at-bats between the hot corner and designated hitter. Meanwhile, Correa’s return likely means that Twins top prospect Royce Lewis will likely shift to the outfield full-time this season once he returns from last year’s surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Captain Sets Sail For Toronto

After spending a dozen years as an iconic figure and self-proclaimed team captain in San Francisco, veteran first baseman Brandon Belt signed a one-year, $9.3 million contract on Tuesday with the up-and-coming Blue Jays. It’s a fascinating landing spot from a fantasy perspective as Belt figures to play regularly for Toronto between designated hitter and first base this season when Alejandro Kirk is behind the plate or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. requires a day off. The 34-year-old excels at hitting breaking balls, something the rest of the Blue Jays’ lineup has struggled with the last few years, but there are some serious question marks surrounding his health, especially after undergoing right knee surgery last September. He’s expected to be fully healthy for spring training and will certainly be worth monitoring when Toronto kicks off Grapefruit League play in late February. He’s teased fantasy managers for years with significant power upside based on his expected metrics and is relocating to a vastly superior home ballpark in Toronto. Belt has a chance to eclipse the 20-homer threshold this season in a semi-regular role, if he stays healthy. He’s a viable late-round lottery ticket for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues.

Unexpected Storyline

The Red Sox topsy-turvy offseason continued this week when ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that shortstop Trevor Story is likely to miss four to six months after undergoing right elbow surgery. There isn’t an official timetable for Story to return after undergoing an internal brace procedure to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. It’s a modified procedure from full Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery, which offers a much quicker return timeline, but he’s still likely to miss a significant chunk of the 2023 season. “We’re not ready to put a timetable on it yet,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters on Tuesday. “I certainly would not rule out a return sometime during 2023. But it’s also not something at this stage that we want to bank on.” It’s unclear how Boston’s front office will address their newfound shortstop vacancy. From a fantasy perspective, Story drops from a surefire top-seven second baseman to a borderline top-20 option in drafts this spring.

MLB Quick Hits: Dodgers acquired SS Miguel Rojas from the Marlins for INF Jacob Amaya … Giants signed RHP Luke Jackson to a two-year, $11.5 million contract with a $7 million club option for 2025 … Red Sox signed RHP Corey Kluber to a one-year, $10 million contract with an $11 million club option for 2024 … Brewers signed LHP Wade Miley to a one-year, $4.5 million contract with a $10 million mutual option for 2024 … Mariners signed OF AJ Pollock to a one-year, $7 million contract … Diamondbacks signed RHP Zach Davies to a one-year, $5 million contract with a mutual option for 2024 ... Nationals signed OF Corey Dickerson to a one-year, $2.25 million contract ... Angels signed OF Brett Phillips to a one-year, $1.2 million contract … According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Marlins are in agreement with free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto on a one-year, $8.5 million contract with a $10.5 million club option for 2024 … Hector Gomez of Z101 Digital reports that the Padres and free agent designated hitter Nelson Cruz are in agreement on a one-year, $1 million contract … Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that the Athletics and Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami are in agreement on a one-year, $3.25 million contract … Phillies acquired RHP Yunior Marte from the Giants for LHP Erik Miller … Blue Jays acquired RHP Zach Thompson from the Pirates for OF Chavez Young … Orioles acquired LHP Darwinzon Hernandez from the Red Sox for cash considerations … Twins acquired RHP A.J. Alexy from the Nationals for RHP Cristian Jimenez … Tigers claimed RHP Edwin Uceta off waivers from the Diamondbacks … Twins designated OF Kyle Garlick for assignment … Blue Jays designated RHP’s Julian Merryweather and Junior Fernández for assignment … Nationals designated RHP Andres Machado for assignment … Diamondbacks designated RHP J.B. Bukauskas for assignment … Orioles designated 1B Lewin Díaz for assignment … Twins designated RHP Oliver Ortega for assignment … Angels designated RHP Austin Warren for assignment … Red Sox designated RHP Connor Seabold for assignment … Diamondbacks signed C P.J. Higgins to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … White Sox signed INF/OF Hanser Alberto to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Padres re-signed RHP Craig Stammen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Red Sox signed OF Greg Allen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Blue Jays signed RHP Jay Jackson to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Rangers signed C Sandy León and RHP Zack Littell to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training ... Brewers signed RHP Thyago Vieira and INF/OF Josh VanMeter to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training ... Cubs signed RHP Vinny Nittoli to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Mets signed OF Tim Locastro to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Tigers signed LHP Chasen Shreve to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Royals signed INF/OF Matt Beaty to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Mariners signed INF Colin Moran to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Rockies signed LHP’s Fernando Abad, Josh Rogers and Ty Blach to minor league contracts … Phillies signed INF Vimael Machin and RHP Louis Head to minor league contracts … Twins signed C Chase Sisco and OF Ryan LaMarre to minor league contracts … Royals signed RHP Kohl Stewart to a minor league contract … Reds signed OF Henry Ramos to a minor league contract … Marlins sent INF Charles Leblanc outright to Triple-A Jacksonville … Giants sent C Austin Wynns outright to Triple-A Sacramento … Phillies sent RHP Francisco Morales outright to Triple-A Lehigh Valley … Orioles sent 1B/OF Ryan O’Hearn and RHP Chris Vallimont outright to Triple-A Norfolk … Dodgers released RHP Trevor Bauer.