The Houston Astros let George Springer hit the free-agent market this winter and is now gone on a six-year, $150 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. And if the Astros are not careful, the same could happen to Carlos Correa.
Correa, of course, is scheduled to become a free agent next offseason. The Astros and Correa did not agree to a pre-arbitration deal and could go to a hearing to figure out his 2021 salary, which could impact the relationship between the two sides. Even then, Correa made it clear on Astroline that he would “love to be an Astro for life.”
“Nothing would make me happier,” Correa said, “than to represent this organization and be a franchise player.”
Whether that is realistic is unclear, considering that the Astros made little-to-no effort to re-sign Springer. But Correa, 26, is a cornerstone player at a premiere position, and the Astros should do everything in their power to not only extend him but do so before he hits free agency. He is not only an elite defensive shortstop but has proven to shine brightest in the biggest moments. And if the Astros hope to remain in contention moving forward, building their team around Correa would be a strong start.
The good news for the Astros is that the upcoming free-agent shortstop class is loaded, and Correa could be incentivized to avoid it altogether. The group features Correa, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez and Trevor Story. It is possible that the overly saturated market leads teams to follow a similar path as this winter, dragging out the process with the hope of securing these players on cheaper contracts.
But the Astros would be wise to not test that theory and risk losing the player who fueled their recent postseason success. Losing Springer is one thing. Losing Correa would be a whole other story, and it is quite possible they wouldn’t be able to overcome it.