The Houston Astros tendered three players and re-signed Austin Pruitt to a one-year deal ahead of the non-tender deadline on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Houston Astros announced the players they tendered contracts to Aledmys Diaz, Lance McCullers Jr. and Carlos Correa. While all three players were arbitration-eligible, they could see contract extensions their way soon. Additionally, right-handed pitcher Austin Pruitt agreed to a one-year contract with Houston.
Diaz, 30, is a one-time All-Star and has been seen a vital platoon position for the Astros. The right-hander made his way to Houston from Toronto for Trent Thornton in Nov. 2018. Diaz might not be to his All-Star year numbers again, but he offers flexibility and has been an efficient replacement for the departure of Marwin Gonzalez in 2018. After missing most of the regular season with a groin strain, Diaz excelled in the postseason with a .353 batting average, while seeing most time in the DH role with Yordan Alvarez having season ending surgery. This will be the second time Diaz has hit arbitration, and MLBTradeRumors projects he will make $2.8 million in 2021 as a reliable replacement from almost every position (based on 2020 season).
Lance McCullers Jr.
2020 was McCullers first season back after Tommy John Surgery sidelined him in 2019. The right-hander wasn’t exactly back to his All-Star form in the small sample sized season, but he showed some sparks in the playoffs. Through 11 games, “Snap Dragon 1” went 3-3 with an ERA of 3.93 while fanning 56 batters. The strikeout rate decreased for McCullers in ’20 along with his command struggles. While dominating Game 2 of the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays, McCullers still contributed to two loses in that series which included a Game 7 loss. 2021 will definitely be a year to prove he still has the stuff to be a high-end pitcher. He will compete with Framber Valdez for the Opening Day role this spring. We could see a rejuvenated McCullers in 2021, but come August, the Astros have the choice of shipping off the righty or extending him for the future. McCullers is now 27 and has reached his fourth and last year of arbitration. MLB Trade Rumors projects he will make $4.7 million in 2021.
Correa is now 26 years old, and we have seen the highs and lows in his time in Houston. The 1-time All-Star has battled injuries and slumps in his six years with the Astros, but rumors have been spread that his time in Houston was soon coming to an end. Ken Rosenthal was the first to break the news for this offseason, but then reported the next day that the chances of a deal were slim to none. We saw this last season as well with possible suitors being the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. In 2020, Correa was around average at the plate while hitting .264/.326/.383 but showed great lights of being the captain. Something that did stand out was Correa’s glove as he was arguably the best defensive shortstop in all of baseball, he was snubbed of his first Gold Glove. These numbers don’t show the true potential of Correa while he picked up a hot bat in the postseason like many other Astros. He hit .362 with six homers and 17 RBIs in the month of October, along with one of the greatest walk-off home runs in Astros history. Correa hits arbitration for the third and final time. MLB Trade Rumors projects him $8 million in 2021.
The 31-year-old righty missed all of the 2020 season with right elbow injury. The Houston native was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in January 2020 for Peyton Battenfield and Cal Stevenson. In three major-league seasons, Pruitt showed he could come out of the pen along with sometime in the starting role. The right-hander has a career ERA of 4.87 and has seen an increase in his strikeout rate. Pruitt could see sometime out of the bullpen for Houston in 2021, but if the Astros don’t make a move for another starter, don’t be surprised if you seem hit the bump in the 1st inning. He had surgery to repair a hair-line fracture in September and is set to be ready for the start of the 2021 season.