Jose Miranda was working out when he saw the news. It came on his television on MLB Network, he said, or maybe he saw it on his phone. He can’t remember exactly how he found out the franchise-changing news that shortstop Carlos Correa was coming back.
But Miranda can definitely remember his reaction. After Correa’s drawn-out, twisty free agency saga, Miranda’s first thoughts were similar to that of most Twins’ fans.
The vibe around TwinsFest, a two-day event back for the first time in person since 2020, had a decidedly optimistic feel, thanks in no small part to Correa’s decision to return for six — and possibly more — years on a contract that guarantees him $200 million through 2028.
While president of baseball operations Derek Falvey will never proclaim the offseason work done until the season actually starts — the Twins swung a trade the day before Opening Day last season — the Twins made a host of moves this offseason that have engendered positivity for the 2023 season.
“Bringing Carlos back, we know what that does for everything that we do, but the other pieces that we brought in, they accomplished the objectives that we looked at and said, ‘These are things that we want to do going into this offseason,’ ” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
“Rarely are you able to accomplish them. Usually, you get some of them; you get a portion of it done. I can look up and say, ‘I think we’ve got the vast majority of what we wanted to do.’”
Beyond Correa, the Twins brought acquired starter Pablo López, catcher Christian Vázquez, infielder Kyle Farmer and outfielders Joey Gallo and Michael A. Taylor.
While López in particular came at a hefty cost — American League batting champ Luis Arraez was sent to Miami in the trade — the Twins believe they have improved a roster that spent much of last season atop the American League Central before injuries ravaged the roster.
“I feel very confident about where we are right now, especially with our pitching staff,” Correa said. “We got better this year with the acquisition of Pablo. And we’ve got (Kenta) Maeda coming back, we’ve got (Tyler) Mahle; he’s going to be healthy. Joe Ryan looks great. They had a really good year last year. Our bullpen feels really solid. So, I’m expecting big things.”
When things fell apart last year, it was largely because of injuries. By September, the depleted roster was without position players such as Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler, and starting pitchers such as Mahle and Sonny Gray.
The Twins have built out more depth this season, particularly in the rotation, should they face a rash of injuries once more. López gives the Twins six solid rotation options with a few prospects behind that group waiting in the wings.
All the moves prompted shortstop Royce Lewis, himself is out until the middle of the season after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament last year, to say the Twins are, on paper, “probably the best team in the Central.”
“That’s how we feel and I think we’ve just got to go out there and prove it, right?” Lewis said. “Stay healthy.”
And if they do?
The Twins expect they’ll be contending come October.
“I think we’re excited to see what we can do. We trust the front office,” Gallo said. “I’ve known (general manager) Thad (Levine) and those guys for a long time, some of these coaches for a long time. I know that they know what they’re doing. They’re putting guys in the right spots. It’s going to be an exciting year for us, and hopefully we can do some damage and can make a run.”