Gerrit Cole didn’t expect his next live encounter with Carlos Correa to happen at Target Field.
Like everyone else in the baseball world, the New York Yankees believed his former fellow Houston Astros would end up signing with a big-market club on a deal worth more than $300 million.
They weren’t on anyone’s radar until Correa’s agent, Scott Borras, called Derek Valvey and Tad Levine and suggested they have his client available.
Fourteen hours later, the twins made Korea the highest-paid player in baseball by average annual salary, and netted it on a three-year, $105.3 million deal that includes opt-outs after each of the first two seasons.
On Thursday night, Cole made a show for the Yankees in the series finale and will face Korea, who is back in the Twins lineup Tuesday, eight days after he tested positive for COVID-19. This will be the third time Korea and Cole have faced each other but only the second since they were teammates in Houston from 2018-2019.
“It was surprising, but I was happy for it,” Cole said. “Obviously, maybe not what he envisioned. But his options are wide open. He seems happy.”
Similar to Cole’s two previous seasons, Correa was considered the best free agent in baseball this past winter. Cole signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees.
As one of eight players on the Executive Board of the League of Baseball Players, Cole had an inside vision of shutting down baseball for 99 days. He knew his former teammate was still looking for a new home when the lockdown began on December 2, and tried to keep him updated on the situation.
Gerrit Cole talking to Carlos Correa pic.twitter.com/Azn0Ci4bvb
– Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) 7 June 2022
“I sent him some texts, and told him we were working on it,” Cole said. “Sometimes things go fast. Prince Felder took her to spring training once. (Stephen) Strasbourg, they couldn’t sign Strasbourg fast enough. Once the chips fell, they fell fast. But (Correa’s) was kind of a unique circumstance. There are pros and cons on both sides of the fence.”
Correa has been adamant since his arrival that he couldn’t be happier with the twins. He has found a talented club of teammates eager to win again. While he could withdraw from his contract after this season and the following season, Correa has suggested that he would like to continue on a long-term deal.
If Correa were to stay, that would mean fewer meetings against Cole, who is signed with the Yankees until 2028. Cole wouldn’t mind given the challenge Correa poses when facing off.
Correa is 2 for 5 with RBI against Cole.
“It’s not a comfort to be facing really great players all the time,” Cole said. “You like the measuring stick and the competition factor, but it’s also hard to get to know my character etc. There’s obviously a lot at stake when you’re up against a player like that.”
“Carlos is just stubborn about staying inside baseball, which always gives him a chance to get a hit. His awareness of the elite strike zone. He has a little bit of magic, you know? He just has that factor and what kind of raises him above the rest of the crop that hits as well, or in that stratosphere.” He is the outstanding defense in the most important position other than the bowler. This is what makes him a special player.”
A special player likely to hit free agency again after this season at age 28. Cole would love his former teammate’s chances of getting a big payday if he elected free agency again after 2022. Or after 2023.
“If he doesn’t (withdraw) he chooses again and he’s 29,” Cole said. “And if he doesn’t pick her up again, he’s thirty.”
Not in a bad position to be in.
Archer, the twins defeat the Yankees
Chris Archer made a number of big pitches on Wednesday, but none were more important than the one player he threw to Gleber Torres to finish the fourth inning.
After a Nick Gordon error eliminated a potential double play at the end and Josh Donaldson carried the rules, Torres hit Archer’s slide for a single jump to Gordon, who initiated a crucial double play. The moment highlighted another strong start for Archer, who made five sharp turns and rewarded his attack in the Twins’ 8-1 win over the New York Yankees.
Archer’s victory is the first since September 4 and only the second since June 2019.
“Some mistakes will happen,” Archer said. “It’s a baseball game. I’m going to make a lot of mistakes, and sometimes center players make mistakes. But in the back of my mind, I knew that if Nicky G got another floorball, we’d spin it.
“We want to execute the pitches as high as possible and give our defenders a chance to play and redeem ourselves. So yeah, it felt great.”
Luxurious range support wasn’t bad either.
The twins followed Archer’s rule-laden escape by finally breaking through against Yankees player Nestor Curtis at the bottom of the fourth inning. Former Yankee Geo Orchila had a song opposite the wall for Byron Buxton to score, and debutante Jose Miranda followed it up with an RBI song.
After the New York team reclaimed one in the fifth inning, the Archer twins added. Ryan Jeffers cut the 0-for-21 streak with Homer solo, his first since May 3. Two strokes later, Buxton hit a deep center to knock Curtis out of the game and make it 4-1. It’s the first time all season that Curtis, who has a 1.96 ERA, has allowed two of his teammates on the same ride.
– Bally Sports North (BallySportsNOR) June 9, 2022
But the twins didn’t finish adding up.
After a double by Urshela and Miranda for sixth, Max Kepler’s RBI Groundout put the twins ahead by four runs and Trevor Larnach had a double-hit to make it 6-1. The twins scored two more goals in the seventh inning on Miranda’s loaded bases alone, a hit that allowed Baldele to sit down with reliever Joan Duran, who was in a warm-up.
“It was a good, decisive win for the group,” Baldeli said. “Arch got out there and did a great job and gave us five really overall runs there. A lot swings everywhere you look, and it’s hard to score against. Being able to go out there and score points like this against them today was a great sign.”
The Twins tied the series against the Yankees after losing the Blast in their opening game. Besides winning streak in Toronto, the twins are satisfied with their ability to hold out despite having 16 players on the injured roster.
“Look, we’re able to do this every night,” Archer said. “We all have that expectation, no matter who we play for. But yes, we are playing really good teams and we will see how we score and what we have to do to be very competitive against these players. … We are resilient.”
Twin injury report
Rocco Baldelli, Twins director, said Joe Ryan (COVID-IL) will begin rehab at Triple-A St. Paul on Thursday and Josh Winder (right shoulder impingement) will give two Saints rounds on Friday. If all goes well, both bowlers can join the twins on their next turn by starting a spin.
Baldeli said: • Reliever Cody Stashak is expected to miss the rest of the season after he underwent surgery to repair the torn right incision. Dr. Neil Al-Atrash will perform Stashak surgery in Los Angeles.
Baldeli said: • Jorge Alcala’s rehabilitation has been paused after his right forearm suffered from forearm stiffness. Baldeli described the incident as a small setback.
• Baldeli was hoping first baseman Luis Ariz (shoulder) would be available for the pinch during Wednesday’s game and be able to return to the starting line-up on Thursday. Baldeli said Ares came out of Tuesday’s loss with his right shoulder stretched, a problem he’s dealt with before.
what i hear
In IL retrospective to May 30, Sonny Gray (right thoracic strain) continues to make good progress. The right-hander, who went 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA in 27 1/3 rounds in May, is expected to throw an extended session on Friday. If all goes well, the twins plan to avoid the rehab assignment for Gray, who qualifies for activation outside IL on Tuesday in Seattle. … the Twins are also expected to provide an update on injured potential Royce Lewis ahead of Thursday’s game. Lewis hit the court wall on May 29 – the same game that Gray left due to injury – and came out with a contusion to his right knee bone. The twins waited until Wednesday for the swelling in Lewis’ knee to subside to have a second MRI. While the twins have remained publicly guarded, the way Lewis has moved since his injury has made the twins optimistic.
(Photo by Carlos Correa: Jordan Johnson/USA Today)