According to Ken Rosenthal from The Athletic, the Astros have looked into a potential trade of Carlos Correa to help free up salary, perhaps even in an effort to retain Gerrit Cole. After Strasberg resigned with the Washington Nationals for $245 million, it is likely Cole will seek a salary of $300 million or more.
With the Astros already into the luxury tax territory and a new contract looming for George Springer, the Astros will need to find creative ways to curb payroll and it would seem Correa is one of those options.
As good as Correa has been, he has yet to fill the expectations that came with drafting him with the first pick in the 2012 draft, mainly due to injury problems. Most specifically, a recurring back issue that has put Correa on the injured list several times. Back injuries at an early age are always worrisome.
There are also those who believe that Correa, who has been a stellar defensive shortstop, is playing out of position. Bregman's size makes him a better fit at shortstop and Correa, who prefers to play between second and third, appears to be more of a classic third bagger.
Still, moving Correa would need to bring a significant return given his age, experience and obvious skillset.
It seems like an extreme long shot for the Astros to reel in Cole, who has suitors from the Yankees and Dodgers to the Giants and others all over him. And with Strasberg's huge deal, even without Correa's contract, the Astros might not be able to afford $40 million or more per season, even for Cole. It's also somewhat out of character for GM Jeff Lunhow to break the bank for a single player, preferring instead to find diamonds in the rough.
But, having trade bait like Correa is rather unique. It's feasible they could move him for a pitcher and perhaps another player, like a catcher, moving Bregman to short and Yuli Gurriel to third assuming Yordan Alvarez can take over at first base. The Astros, in addition to holes in the starting lineup, will need to address free agency in the bullpen as well.
It would be unfortunate to see Correa go, but the Astros have done such a good job of drafting and acquiring young talent, they find themselves in an enviable position, with talent to spare.