In nearly a half-century of major leaguers hitting the open market, Correa had an experience like no other. He agreed to three contracts totaling $865 million, moving from a team on the West Coast to one on the East Coast, then back to where he played last season, to a club in the Midwest. All because of a surgery he underwent to repair a fractured right fibula and minor ligament damage as a 19-year-old prospect with the Astros in June 2014, issues he thought were behind him.
Thanks to the words “pending a physical,” Correa learned otherwise. First, he was unable to complete a 13-year, $350 million agreement with the San Francisco Giants. Then, he was unable to finalize a 12-year, $315 million deal with the New York Mets. Both teams, after conducting medical reviews, expressed concern about the long-term stability of his right ankle.
Correa eventually landed back with the Twins after his agent, Scott Boras, negotiated a six-year, $200 million deal with four vesting or club options that could increase the total value to $270 million. Life-changing money, no matter how you look at it. But Correa never imagined the twists and turns that occurred during his 29-day journey from the Giants to the Mets to the Twins.
In a 25-minute phone interview with The Athletic on Friday afternoon, Correa talked about that journey, expounding upon his ankle, his conversations with Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor when he thought they were about to be teammates and his fondness for the team that turned out to be his third choice, the Twins.
Here is a transcript of the interview, edited slightly for length and clarity:
The Athletic: Let’s start at the beginning, when you first found out the Giants had an issue with your physical. What did they tell you was wrong?
Carlos Correa: I was looking for houses already over there (Correa’s introductory news conference with the Giants was scheduled for the next day). Then I get back to the hotel that night, and Scott calls me. I remember last time (in free agency) when he called me with Minnesota, he was like, “Congratulations. It’s official. You’re going to Minnesota.” This time, he said, “I need you to come to the room. We need to talk.”
At that point, I knew something was wrong. His voice sounded serious. There was not a lot of energy behind it. I headed over to his room and that’s when he told me. He said, “We’re having a problem with the physical. They’re talking about the MRI and the ankle.” I remember going like, “What?” I couldn’t believe it. I was in complete shock.
I had my suit and everything ready. My body has been feeling great. I did a physical before going to free agency last year. I did a physical before signing with the Twins. And I did an exit physical with the Twins. I didn’t think there was going to be a problem. I was 100 percent confident this was going to go through.
At that moment, everything felt slow. Everything felt like, “Is this real? Is this a dream? Is this a joke?” But it was real. From then on, we had to deal with a lot of things.
TA: What did the Giants say to you about the ankle?
Correa: The conversations were about the future. We were talking about a 13-year deal. What they were saying is that in the future it might not hold up. Which I couldn’t understand. That was the toughest part for me.
I never missed a game because of my ankle. You look at my complete medical record in the big leagues, there is zero treatment on my ankle. And it has never hurt. I couldn’t understand how they were predicting the future, saying 8-10 years down the line something might happen to it.
TA: Did the Mets later tell you the same thing?
Correa: The Giants used an ankle specialist who didn’t pass me. Then the Mets used the same specialist, who obviously wasn’t going to pass me. He had already given an opinion to another team about my ankle. He was not going to change that. He was going to stand by what he was saying, of course, because that is what he believed.
We did have other ankle specialists look at it and say it was going to be fine, orthopedists who know me, even the one who did the surgery on me. They were looking at the functionality of the ankle, the way the ankle has been the past eight years. I’ve played at an elite level where my movement has never been compromised. It was just a year ago when I won a Platinum Glove at shortstop, one of the most demanding positions, where you have to move the most. But the one doctor that had never touched me or seen me or done a test on me, that was the one who said it wasn’t going to be fine.
TA: What kind of work have you done over the years to keep the ankle strong? Will you need to be more proactive about managing it now?
Correa: Ever since the surgery,…