Twins notebook: Carlos Correa’s possibly growing market, Nelson Cruz’s future and more

SAN DIEGO — Xander Bogaerts’ signing with the San Diego Padres could be a poor development for the Twins and their pursuit of Carlos Correa.

When the Padres stunned all of baseball yet again Wednesday night, inking Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million deal, it potentially opened up another big-spending suitor for Correa, the Boston Red Sox.

Much of the chatter throughout the offseason had the Red Sox mostly focused on deciding whether to bring back Bogaerts, their four-time All-Star and two-time champion shortstop. Boston did make an effort to retain Bogaerts, although their reported final offer came up woefully short of San Diego’s. The news not only delivered another loss to Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in an increasingly painful offseason but also provided a window for a potential reunion between Correa and Boston manager Alex Cora, a longtime friend from their days together in Houston.

Were Boston to join the San Francisco Giants in pursuing Correa, it wouldn’t be a good development for the Twins. Not only might the Red Sox feel pressured to make a move after losing Bogaerts, their latest high-profile departure during Bloom’s tenure, they also can outspend the Twins.

Were Correa to sign elsewhere, Boston has an in-house alternative after signing Trevor Story last March to a $140 million contract.

Although Boston could slide Story from second base back to shortstop and spend their money elsewhere, there were questions during Story’s free agency if he projected as a long-term shortstop or had an arm better suited for second base. Perhaps the Red Sox look for a cheaper option than Correa as well.

Whether the Red Sox feel compelled to act remains to be seen. Correa’s many friends around the sport are all over the map in guessing where he’ll land. Some believe the Twins have a shot. Others think the Giants. And now the Red Sox, who boast a strong advocate for Correa in the manager’s chair, could jump into the mix.

The Twins haven’t changed their stance as the shortstop market has developed this offseason. They believe they firmly remain in the mix to retain Correa, who gave the organization favorable reviews after spending the 2022 season in the Twin Cities. The Twins also met with free-agent shortstop Dansby Swanson via video conference Tuesday.

And, they provided themselves with insurance last month when they acquired shortstop Kyle Farmer from the Cincinnati Reds.

Nelson Cruz had an OPS+ of 90 for the Nationals, his lowest figure since 2007. (Geoff Burke / USA Today)

Nelson Cruz still wants to play

Ex-Twins slugger Nelson Cruz attended the Winter Meetings as he prepares for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Cruz is set to become a player/general manager for the Dominican Republic, which could feature as many as four members of the 2022 Twins. Jhoan Duran, Jorge Polanco, Gary Sánchez and Wander Javier are all on the country’s 50-man roster.

Coming off the worst season of his career, Cruz, 42, hopes the WBC won’t be the end of his playing days. He recently had eye surgery after experiencing inflammation in his left eye for more than a year. Cruz thought the eye played a big role in his struggles in 2022, when he batted .234/.313/.337 with 10 homers in 507 plate appearances.

With the designated hitter expanded to the National League, Cruz hopes to land a job and play a similar role to what Albert Pujols did last season with St. Louis.

“Everything is good now,” Cruz said. “They gave me a few weeks until I start training. … That’s the dream of any player. You want to finish when you want to finish.”

Cruz is excited about his new role as GM for the DR, which will train at the Twins’ complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

He was equally enthusiastic about the season put up by former teammate Luis Arraez, who worked out with Cruz for seven weeks last offseason and went on to win his first American League batting title. Cruz said he and Arraez intend to work out together again this winter in the DR and in Venezuela.

He also believes a fresh start would be the best thing for another former Twins teammate, Miguel Sanó. Cruz said the two spoke a month ago and that he’s hopeful Sanó can regain his health after another injury-marred season.

“It’s hard,” Cruz said. “I love Sanó. He’s trying to follow all the steps where he can find a balance and stay healthy. That’s the bottom line. Hopefully, it’s coming next year and he’s able to play a full season.”

Twins look to add ‘impact player’ after Draft Lottery luck

Already enthralled by the debut of 2022 first-rounder Brooks Lee, the Twins are ecstatic after they moved up eight spots on Tuesday night and landed the fifth overall pick in the inaugural Draft Lottery. The combination of a great pick and strong expected depth in the upcoming class has Twins draft guru Sean Johnson thinking the team will have an opportunity to add more impact talent to the farm system.

The Twins pick fifth overall, and they also have a competitive-balance pick this year (it should be in the mid-30s). Along with their second-rounder, the Twins will have three top-50 picks to help replenish a farm system that was depleted last season by several prominent trades.

The Twins’ draft bonus pool increased by roughly $2.1 million when they unexpectedly moved up from 13th overall. A team that remained in contention until Labor Day before being crushed by injuries is giddy to pick fifth.

“Any time you can jump into the top 10 of a draft, you’re beyond excited to be able to have a chance to acquire an impact player, which is where those usually come from,” Johnson said. “They showed (the players) on the screen (during the broadcast). That’s a good group to start with. There will be someone else who probably creeps in there as well. I think we’re feeling good about the depth in the first five and then also beyond that, into the sandwich round and second round.”

No Rule 5 pick; spot stays open

Although the Twins identified one player they wanted to select in the Rule 5 draft, they did not make a selection when their turn arrived Wednesday afternoon. Multiple sources said the club considered drafting a position player who wasn’t selected by any other team.

Multiple sources later confirmed that the Twins thought keeping their final spot on the 40-man vacancy was more important than adding the player through the Rule 5 draft.

(Top photo of Carlos Correa: Rick Osentoski / USA Today)


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