Johnny Cueto finally found a home, and the stakes for Mike Clevinger escalated a notch.
Cueto signed with the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, and for less than the White Sox’s terms with Clevinger in all respects. It’s a one-year, $8.5 million deal, with Cueto receiving $6 million for 2023, with a $10.5 million club option or $2.5 million buyout afterward.
Clevinger, meanwhile, will make $8 million in 2023, followed by a $4 million buyout in the likely situation that one side or the other declines the $12 million mutual option.
Past performance doesn’t guarantee future success, and these two contracts internalize that concept better than anything when judging them by their 2022 seasons:
Clevinger’s contract blended into the background of the offseason when other unimpressive starters like Kyle Gibson and Matthew Boyd signed eight-figure deals in short order, but with Cueto only guaranteed seven figures, he might have signed the winter’s first enviable starting-pitcher contract. It just so happens to involve a guy who was last seen pitching very, very well for the White Sox.
I wouldn’t count on Cueto repeating his success, because he had the seventh-lowest HR/FB rate in the majors among pitchers to throw 150 innings while allowing the highest contact rate among that group. He doesn’t get a noteworthy amount of weak contact, ground balls or pop-ups, and last year was the first time he cracked 150 innings since 2016, so he’ll have to do his best Jackie Chan impression to defend himself against regression from all angles.
It’d just be nice if Clevinger offered specific reason for hope more recently than 2019. There’s still a feeling that the White Sox jumped the market for mediocrity a la Adam Eaton, which I suppose would make Cueto Joc Pederson? That kinda works.
Because the Twins signed Carlos Correa to a nine-figure contract when the market bent in their favor last winter, they were able to sign him again on Tuesday.
Once again, they benefited from a tainted market. In 2021, Correa had to settle for three years and $105 million from Minnesota because he was saddled with the qualifying offer in a crowded shortstop market. It only ended up being one year and $35 million, as Correa opted back into free agency, having won the bet on himself.
This winter, he embarked on the most convoluted free agency journey anybody could remember. He agreed to separate deals of 13 years and $350 million with the Giants, and 12 years and $315 million with the Mets, only to see both crumble due to concerns with the plate in Correa’s leg.
The Twins became the third team to sign him, and this one might stick. It only guarantees Correa $200 million over six years, but it could extend to 10 years and $270 million if every option is exercised.
The difference here is that the team holds more cards this time. Correa won a no-trade clause and some impressive salaries up front, but he has no opt-outs. Instead, Correa’s body and the Twins will determine the size and scope of the deal. Via Dan Hayes:
The Twins had to take a risk and front-load their deal, paying Correa $36 million over the next three seasons with $31.5 million due in 2026, $30.5 million in 2027 and $30 million in 2028, according to a club source.
After that, the rest of the contract hinges on vesting and team options. Correa can earn $25 million in 2029 if he accrues 575 plate appearances in 2028. Even if he didn’t reach that total, the Twins have a team option to bring Correa back. Correa needs 550 plate appearances in 2029 to earn a $20 million salary the following season, 525 plate appearances in 2030 to earn $15 million in 2031 and 502 trips to the plate in 2031 to lock in a $10 million salary in 2032, according to a source.
There’s still significant risk here, but given the fragile nature of the Twins’ rebuild, they sorely needed to take this sort of chance on a superstar-grade talent to re-open the closing window. If it works, the rewards are obvious. If Correa doesn’t deliver, then he and Byron Buxton will have the only guaranteed deals on the books after 2025, and the rest of the roster can be overhauled freely.
The Twins now have clearly contrasting strategies with the White Sox, who have spent the last two winters counting on impacts to be made from incumbents. Andrew Benintendi is a nice player, but his Royals career shows that about five other players need to make a difference before his specific difference is felt. Of course, last season showed that it’s possible that neither road finds gold, but there’s not much use in dwelling on the boring outcomes now if there’s a real risk of having to live it out.
As soon as I saw the terms of the Correa deal, I thought of the Sox’s final offer to Machado. Somewhere, KW still can be heard screaming “ALL HE HAS TO DO IS STAY HEALTHY!!”
IT’S SUPERIOR IN CERTAIN WAYS!
The price of druthers remains high, I see.
Comerica Park is shrinking, so the Andrew Benintendi signing gets marginally better.
So do LHH Tigers hitters vs. an all RHP White Sox rotation…
I liked the original dimensions of Comerica. Having some extreme parks or extreme aspects of parks is good for the game.
Comerica is one of my fav’s to visit also.
These two contracts scream why it’s better for players to sign early. The dynamics have changed.
Not really. Most players aren’t either 1) a guy with a past leg injury of serious concern that you’re handing a blank check to or 2) a 37-year-old pitcher whose performance last year was in many regards smoke-and-mirrors.
Yeah. Not to mention that the very reason guys often wait to sign is that they aren’t getting the contract they want. I doubt Cueto turned down higher offers than this earlier in the offseason.
There is a reason Cueto was available on the scrap heap for the Sox to pick up in April. I think Clevenger’s a better bet to give the Sox 120-plus innings this year than Cueto is. If Katz et al saw something specific to make them target Clevenger, all the better.
Do worry some about Clevenger’s issues being a knee though, given last year’s parade of leg problems all over the team…
I think the floor for Clev/Cueto is pretty similar, which is that ~120 innings of 4th/5th starter work. But I think the chance of Clevinger outdoing that a lot is generally much better. Another offseason removed from TJS and working with Katz for the whole offseason augurs better in my eyes than Johnny trying to evade Father Time with fast-pitches and shimmies with another year‘s toll on his body.
If things really go well with this signing for the Twins they have the potential to go on a 3 to 4 year run of getting swept in the ALWCS
It’s funny that we went from envying the Twins for being able to produce good players from their farm to envying their ability to sign big free agents.
Lol what? Correa’s damaged goods, and very expensive at that. They have two star players at least of which whose health prognosis absolutely terrifies even the Mets. We have our own version of Buxton anyways, and I’d much, much, MUCH rather have TA than Correa on their now current contracts.
“Damaged goods” is overstating the case. Correa is an excellent player and I’d much prefer see him out of the division. I’d have loved it if the Sox added him, somehow, and moved someone to 2B.
That being said, point taken: I just have the hardest time being scared of the Twins. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Twins beat the Sox—if the Sox don’t win the division, they beat themselves. They were bad/injured again.
The Twins got nearly 1000 PA (972 tot) from Buxton & Correa combined, which is about as much as can be reasonably expected, and finished three games under .500, even worse than the Sox for whom almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I’m more than happy to see the Twins wed themselves to Correa. Their whole strategy seems to be stockpiling really volatile hitters and hoping to catch good years from several. Which I might be worried about if their pitching wasn’t throughly boring.
I’m not sure why you’re bringing Buxton into this. It’s about Correa. In the last 3 seasons, he’s played 58 (out of 60), 148, and 136 games. Without looking, I’d wager that’s more than anyone on the White Sox (sans Abreu). So, again, I think “damaged goods” is far too strong, even if he’s not an exemplar of heatlh.
I also don’t know why you’d call him “volatile.” He’s pretty much a lock to be an excellent player. His career low is 3.1 WAR—when he played 110 games in 2018. He’s about the furthest thing from “volatile.”
Exactly. I’m not a Twins or Correa fan, but Correa’s WAR the past two seasons was higher than Anderson’s career best. The same can be said about 5 of his 8 career seasons. His career WAR more than twice TA in just one extra season. Because of his fielding, he’s a better player and SS than TA. By a lot, it isn’t even that close.
Is this in bWAR? Because fWAR has Correa with just two seasons better than TA’s best (or second best) not five. fWAR also has TA just 1.6 WAR behind Correa since 2019. Correa’s better, but it isn’t by as much as notoriously DRS-dependent bWAR thinks— hence, I’d rather have TA because he‘s making $15M not $36M, and again he doesn’t have a fucking plate that got jarred loose in his leg in September! The whole point I’m making is that this scared both the Giants and Mets enough that the latter didn’t want to guarantee more than half the contract.
I’m not talking about his past health, which is not great but not terrible. I’m talking about his future health re volatility. He’s really excellent when healthy; if the Giants and Mets doctors were both that freaked, is it not clearly suggestive that this is a big gamble by the Twins?
Of course we’re all out of the loop here. But my understanding is that the Giants and Mets concern was the back half of that 12-year deal, and it sounds like the Mets were still willing to guarantee Correa *a lot* of money for the front half. So, if you’re saying Correa will be damaged goods in like 6 or 7 years then, well, okay. But, right now, he’s an excellent player and the Twins managed only to guarantee him money for the less troublesome parts of his career.
Exactly. The Sox have much bigger injury issues to worry about than the Twins are likely to have with Correa in 2023, and they have 5 of them.
At least the Twins are trying. Correa is a better player than the Sox have signed in 20 years.
The Twins have 7 division titles during that time compared to 3 for the Sox. I think their front office is a tad smarter than the idiot festival of darkness we’ve got.
I do legitimately envy the job the Twins FO has done executing a mini-rebuild since bottoming out in 2021. They got a great haul of young players by selling high on Berrios, Cruz, and Garver. They sought and found a nice dump of Donaldson, allowing them to sign a star and extend another. All of those moves required a will to improve that our FO has never fully demonstrated.
But Minnesota’s rotation is still one of the weakest in the AL, and until proven otherwise I think this Sox team is better in 2023.
Uhh, yeah, I mean, your last sentence is exactly why I don’t envy the Twins. That’s the risk of the “mini-rebuild,” I guess. But they seem like a good candidate to be “mired in mediocrity,” to me.
Half the Sox lineup is damaged goods. A lot more so than Correa. Correa missed about 40 games the past two seasons, compared to like 150/180 for Robert and Eloy for starters.
They don’t have plates wiggling loose in their shins. I am going to trust the Giants and Mets doctors here.
The Giants and Mets were 12 and 13 year contracts, quite exceptional in length. The Twins were fine giving him less years. It’s not as if the Twins don’t have doctors. Or would give him 200M/ 6 years if he was as damaged as you assume.
Correa played more games than Eloy, Robert, Grandal, Moncada, and TA in both 2021, and 2022. I mean all 5 of those guys played 100 games or less last year, and you’re railing on the Twins for signing a guy who played more than all of them by a pretty wide margin, and had a higher WAR than all by a wide margin both seasons as well. I think the guy is a douchebag along with Boras for not allowing his contracts to be adjusted to allow the teams to not pay him if he can’t play. But he’s a hell of a player, and probably likely to spend a lot less time on the DL than half the Sox lineup.
Him being effective and healthy most of last year has almost no bearing on what I’m saying, because, again, he reportedly didn’t jolt that plate in the leg until mid to late September. I have no doubt at all that he is excellent when healthy. But if the plate goes awry and he can’t exert force down on that right leg effectively, the guy’s career is immediately toast. It’s arguably worse than Grandal not being able to rotate on the bad knee; at least Grandal can walk a lot and vaguely play his defensive position with balky knees.
The Twins are gambling that it will not go awry. That’s totally fine and I think it’s (in general) good for small market teams to gamble, but I fail to see why it is insane to say that I prefer the shortstop is slightly worse, but costs $20M less per season and doesn’t have a potentially exploding leg.
It’s a solid point but the flip side of that is Luis Robert missed 3 months last year with…nobody knows what? 5 weeks to vitamin deficient dizziness and 2 months to a maybe sprained wrist. A wrist that hurt sometimes to swing if he did so in a funky fashion but other times was ok. Nothing really shows up on the med reports if I recall. I think I’d rather say x player is out for y than to say x player is out and nobody knows y.
Yeah I mean again it’s not like the Twins would shell out $200M guaranteed if his leg was as bad as suggested. They still like him for 6 years. I’m sure their doctors don’t view his good health as low probability or super high risk, quite obviously.
So the Twins have one guy who is an injury risk. The Sox have 5 to worry about. In addition to not having an mlb starter level 2b on their roster.
Their damaged goods put up 5.4 bWAR in 136 games last season. I wish we could get such damaged goods.
And with a flash of insurmountable brilliance, Hahn responds with the signing of Hanser Alberto. Take your damaged goods and suffer Minny. Checkmate Baby, checkmate!
The Twins designated Garlick. I know it’s not exciting but am I crazy for thinking he’d be a very nice platoon partner for Colas? Assuming we could get him for very little
The fourth OF, the Colás/Benintendi weakside platoon guy, should be able to cover CF defensively if needed, and Garlick can’t
Do they give a pin when you join the Hamilton fan club 😄
I want Duvall for 4th OF. Hamilton can come up and run around to general delight when rosters expand imo
when do pitchers and catchers report? I hate January.
You would think Katz was Brent Strom and Leo Mazzone all rolled into one unstoppable, pitching-whisperer God the way he’s talked about in these parts sometimes. Good pitching coach, better than average for sure but goodness