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What’s next for Twins at shortstop with Carlos Correa out of the picture?

The Twins have expressed interest in Dansby Swanson, who will certainly cost much less than Correa.

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Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, left, scores behind Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the National League Division Series in Philadelphia on Oct. 14, 2022.
Hyosub Shin / TNS
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey often talks about Plan B becoming Plan A, Plan B becoming Plan C, and so on, as the Twins prepare themselves for all potential scenarios.

The Twins’ Plan A became a San Francisco Giant on Tuesday night when star shortstop Carlos Correa got the megadeal he was looking for, agreeing to a $350 million contract across 13 years with the Giants.

Ironically, though Correa received the highest amount ever given to a shortstop, and the fourth-highest guaranteed money in Major League Baseball history, he was not the Giants’ Plan A. But after the Giants were unable to net slugger Aaron Judge, who returned to the Yankees, they seemingly became the favorites to sign Correa.

Watching their top priority turn down their offer — reportedly $285 million over 10 years — and sign elsewhere begs the question: what are the Twins’ plans at shortstop now? And how can they use the money earmarked for Correa to improve a third-place roster that has lost talent since the offseason began?

First, the shortstop question.

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Correa became the third of the four big free-agent shortstops to sign, agreeing to the most lucrative deal of the bunch. Trea Turner went off the board first, agreeing to a $300 million deal for 11 years with the Phillies. Xander Bogaerts, who the Twins had shown interest in, was next, signing an 11-year, $280 million contract with the Padres.

The fourth, Dansby Swanson, remains unsigned. After getting married this past weekend, Swanson is currently on his honeymoon and his signing is likely not expected imminently.

The Twins have expressed interest in Swanson, who will certainly cost much less than Correa. But given the going rate for shortstops, Swanson’s price is expected to be driven up, and if the Twins are serious about signing him, they’ll have to compete with bigger-market, deeper-pocketed teams.

Swanson, regarded for his defense, had an all-star season last year for the Atlanta Braves, hitting .277 with a .776 OPS and 25 home runs. His 115 OPS+ represented a big jump from a season prior, and he’s been quite durable over the past few years, missing just two games total since the beginning of the 2020 season.

If the Twins do not land Swanson, which is most likely, they do have a shortstop in the fold who could serve as a short-term bridge option until Royce Lewis — or even Brooks Lee — is ready to assume the position: Kyle Farmer. The Twins acquired Farmer in a trade with the Reds in November.

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Kyle Farmer

If they choose to look externally, there are other free-agent shortstops left on the market — like Elvis Andrus or Jose Iglesias — who could serve as short-term options, too. They could also wade into the trade market to see what they find available, though the Twins depleted a lot of their prospect capital at the trade deadline last season.

Lewis, who is rehabbing after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament for the second time, is not expected to be ready until midseason. And Lee, whom the Twins drafted eighth overall last season, rose quickly to Double-A but has only played 31 games in his professional career to date, so he will begin his season in the minors.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins shortstop Royce Lewis makes a putout May 14 against the Cleveland Guardians during the third inning at Target Field.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports

As for the money that could have gone to Correa, many of the impact names have come off the board. The Twins have met with Carlos Rodón, the top starting pitcher remaining, and Swanson, but if they do not sign one of the two, their ability to make a splash in free agency will be limited, which would force them into the trade market to improve the team.

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“I don’t feel a specific pressure if there’s no Carlos (Correa), then there’s one other player we have to get. We have to just be thoughtful and in the market and make sure we know what is moving,” Falvey said last week. “If we find there’s another good way to make our team better, we’re going to have that conversation. Quite frankly, we’re having them now because we need to be prepared. We can’t just one day wake up and say, ‘Oh, we haven’t called the agents for other players yet.’ ”

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