One of the best days of the year is opening day in baseball. After a COVID-shortened 2020 and a disappointing overall year for the Astros, even more anticipation was building over at Minute Maid Park for the 2021 start. Which made it all the more of a bummer when the offseason negotiations with Carlos Correa came to a screeching halt on April 1 just hours before the first pitch in Oakland.
After Lance McCullers Jr. signed a long-term extension just a week ago, Astros fans were hoping GM James Click would work out a deal with Correa as well. But that did not come to pass before Correa's self-imposed deadline of opening day. He has said he does not want to be distracted by negotiations during the season.
That's a reasonable position but it leaves the Astros with little chance of extending their All-Star shortstop before he reaches free agency after the season. And after hearing Correa Thursday afternoon, it sounds like they won't get much of a chance after the season either.
According to Correa, the Astros, who had already offered six years and $120 million, well below the money and years Correa wanted, offered five years and $125 million. He said the Astros told him they don't believe in signing the kind of long term deals players like Francisco Lindor, a friend of Correa's, got — 10 years, $341 million — which sets the market for the younger Astros shortstop.
If it is true that the Astros don't want to offer deals longer than five or six years — and that seems plausible given the deals they have handed out for other players — it would make them a long shot to retain Correa after the season. That would cost them two of their best home-grown players in two consecutive seasons. That isn't even considering the likely losses of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, both of whom are free agents after this year as well.
It may be that the Astros don't want to sign Correa to a long term deal without seeing him play a full season without injury, while putting up big numbers. But given the situation, a great season from their shortstop may only further serve to make re-signing him impossible.
The good news is Correa now has even greater incentive to have a big season. Unfortunately, it could also be his last in Houston.
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