Just one day after Carlos Correa trade rumors took over Twitter, the Houston Astros have reportedly checked in on DJ LeMahieu.
The rumor mill for the Astros has been all over the place in the last 48 hours. There have been reports suggesting that Houston is floating star shortstop Carlos Correa in trade talks, only for those rumors to be squashed hours later. But general manager James Click clearly views them as a contending team with aggressive pursuits of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Michael Brantley. Now, his challenge is ensuring his team becomes annual contenders.
The Astros have checked in on free-agent infielder DJ LeMahieu, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. A deal is considered highly unlikely, but Rosenthal notes the Astros – and other teams around the league – are exploring a wide range of possibilities and that “surprising moves are coming.”
It is not surprising that Houston has checked in on LeMahieu. After all, Click comes from the Tampa Bay Rays philosophy of checking in on every available option to identify value. But LeMahieu’s market is among the strongest in baseball and it is unlikely he will be anywhere near what the Astros can afford.
Even then, while the Astros have financial flexibility in future seasons with Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke coming off the books in 2022, the team would be wise to spend elsewhere. Correa is soon scheduled to become a free agent and the team would be smart to extend him, but there is an increasing thought that he will not land a new deal before then. The team needs upgrades in the bullpen, replacements for Springer, Brantley and Josh Reddick should they leave in free agency.
The Astros have enough talent in-house to continue to make the playoffs should Springer leave in free agency, as expected. But supplementing that talent will prove costly, considering the club is hesitant to pursue players attached to the qualifying offer since they’re missing their top two picks in 2020 and ’21.
Expect to hear the Astros attached to most, if not all, of the top free agents in the coming weeks and months. But it is highly unlikely they sign any of them unless 1) they’re not attached to the qualifying offer and 2) fit into their budget in 2021 and beyond.