There are rumblings that the Astros are exploring the possibility of trading Carlos Correa.
What would the Winter Meetings be without rumors of a potential blockbuster trade? There’s no indication such a trade is close, but Ken Rosenthal has reported that the Astros are at least exploring the idea of trading star shortstop Carlos Correa.
The reasons for doing so would be many. The team is dealing with a budget crunch after seeing ace Gerrit Cole head to New York for a record $324 million. They’re already projected to be over the luxury tax threshold and still have holes to fill on the pitching staff and behind the plate. Something’s gotta give.
Correa is projected to earn $7.4 million next season and will be a free agent after the 2021 season. He’s been limited by injuries in each of the past three seasons, including playing in just 75 games in 2019. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best in the game, but he simply hasn’t been healthy often enough.
What It Would Solve
With a premium talent such as Correa, the Astros could probably attach Josh Reddick and most of his $13 million salary to any deal and still get a quality return. That would clear around $15-20 million off the books for next season, giving Jeff Luhnow more financial room to work with.
They could also fill a key roster hole or two in the trade, possibly getting a young controllable starting pitcher in return. There have been rumblings on social media about a possible trade to the Reds for Luis Castillo, but I’ve yet to see anything from a verified source about that. It would make sense, but there’s no indication a deal is close.
In addition to clearing payroll space for new additions, it would also pave the way for a possible extension for George Springer. He’s a free agent after the 2020 season, and the Astros probably can’t afford to extend both Springer and Correa, with Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman already signed to hefty long-term deals. Trading Correa could make a Springer extension possible.
How They Would Adjust
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So if trading Correa solves a few problems, how do you adjust to the loss? His health hasn’t been ideal, but Correa is still one of the most talented shortstops in the game. He’s a feared hitter and a superb defender, and no matter what, it’s hard to give away a talent like that when he’s in his prime.
Let’s assume the Astros trade him for pitching. There are several in-house options to fill out the lineup without needing to bring in anyone else. Bregman could be shifted to shortstop full time. Abraham Toro and Aledmys Diaz could split time at third. Yuli Gurriel could also play third with youngster Taylor Jones playing first base if he’s ready.
Even without Correa, the lineup will be plenty deep with Springer, Altuve, Bregman, Gurriel, Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez. Kyle Tucker should provide some additional thump at the bottom of the order as well. You lose a little bit defensively with Correa gone, but Bregman would do just fine there for several years.
If they’re able to get a young, controllable pitcher in return, that should free up plenty of money to supplement the bullpen, possibly by bringing back Will Harris, and sign a catcher such as Robinson Chirinos or Jason Castro.
It would be a mammoth, franchise-altering deal. Correa was the Luhnow regime’s first No. 1 overall draft pick and has been a huge part of this team for the past few years. And with his talent, there’s always the possibility that he finds his health and wins MVPs for another team if you trade him.
But that’s the risk you take, just like there’s the possibility he remains injury-prone for the rest of his career and never truly realizes his full potential. Again, there’s no indication that any Correa trade is close to happening, but it makes perfect sense why the Astros could consider it.