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GM Jeff Luhnow Told Carlos Correa 'He's an Astro' Amid Trade Rumors

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

Houston Astros' Carlos Correa reacts to his RBI single during the fifth inning of Game 7 of the baseball World Series against the Washington Nationals Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

A report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic on Tuesday said the Houston Astros had "entertained" the idea of trading star shortstop Carlos Correa to trim payroll. 

On Thursday, the team's general manager, Jeff Luhnow, refuted those rumors, telling reporters he spoke with Correa on a phone call while the shortstop was on his honeymoon.

"Enjoy your honeymoon and don't read trade rumors," Luhnow told him, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.

"I reassured him he's an Astro," Luhnow added.

In his Tuesday report, Rosenthal noted: "No deal appears close, and the timing might not be right for such a move, considering that most teams are set at shortstop and Correa's trade value is down. But at some point, the Astros will need to make difficult decisions, and Correa might be the odd man out."

Teams would be interested if Correa was indeed on the trade market. There have already been mixed reports about whether the New York Mets tested those waters:

Andy Martino @martinonyc

Sources say Mets have had dialogue with the Astros about Carlos Correa. Nothing imminent.

Anthony DiComo @AnthonyDiComo

Source described Mets-Astros Carlos Correa rumors as "more fantasy baseball" than reality. No real smoke there.

The Astros, in theory, could move Alex Bregman to shortstop if they ever moved on from Correa. He filled in their last season when Correa was injured, and one of the reasons that Correa's trade value is down is that he's missed at least 50 games in three straight seasons.

Last year, he missed 87 games overall, and Luhnow addressed his ongoing injury concerns:

"He's probably more frustrated than we are that he hasn't always been able to be out on the field. Part of it is the way he plays the game. He's so athletic, makes amazing catches and throws and he puts his body through a lot. I do think he's doing everything he can—and we're supporting him through our medical department—to make sure he posts the most number of games this year and next year than he ever has."

When healthy, he was excellent, hitting .279 with 21 homers and 59 RBI last season, fantastic numbers for such an injury-shortened campaign. Moving on from that production would be a tough pill to swallow. 

MLB Stats @MLBStats

Through this point in his career, Carlos Correa has been one of the most productive shortstops in recent @MLB history. https://t.co/jVF6eX4tLo https://t.co/A36DnLB8Ec

And as Rosenthal noted, trading Correa wouldn't exactly offer the Astros significant cap relief in the short term, with a projected $7.4 million salary coming in arbitration. He's under club control for two more seasons, though a huge 2020 campaign could see that number rise significantly.

Still, Houston has some major financial commitments going forward, as Rosenthal noted: "Jose Altuve ($130 million from 2020 to '24); Bregman ($90 million from 2020 to '24), right-hander Justin Verlander ($66 million in 2020-'21) and right-hander Zack Greinke ($43.4 million in 2020-'21, with the Diamondbacks paying the other $20.6 million)."

George Springer will also get a major payday as a free agent next winter, and it may be difficult for Houston to keep all of its stars at market value if they also want to avoid paying the luxury tax. On the other hand, if the goal is maximizing their title window, the only way to give themselves the best opportunity is to splash the cash. 

For now, it appears Correa is remaining in Houston. But the Astros are going to have some major decisions to make soon.