Top Landing Spots and Trade Packages for Astros SS Carlos Correa Amid Rumors
The MLB rumor mill has had a busy week, and things are only getting started, with the December 6-10 winter meetings (virtual edition) right around the corner.
Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is among the more surprising names to have surfaced in rumors recently.
On Monday, a report emerged from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that the Astros star was being "floated" in trade talks, causing a stir across the MLB landscape.
In a rare turn of offseason events, Rosenthal later retracted that report, writing: "While the Astros, like most teams, will entertain all trade possibilities, the source said the characterization of the club 'floating' Correa's name, cited in the initial version of this story, was inaccurate."
Maybe that's true, or maybe the Astros are trying to avoid a situation like the one the Colorado Rockies faced with Nolan Arenado last offseason when he expressed his displeasure with being publicly shopped and was eventually pulled off the trade block.
It would also hurt Houston's bargaining power if it became known the team is intent on trading him before the season starts.
Whether he's available or not, we can still speculate on what a Correa trade might look like and which teams might be in the mix for his services.
The 26-year-old is a year away from reaching free agency as part of a loaded class of shortstops that includes Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Javier Baez.
Let's start by eliminating some teams from the running.
Why Other Teams Were Not Included
Here's a quick-hit rundown of why the teams not included as potential landing spots were removed from the conversation:
- ARI: Rebuilding, non-contender
- ATL: Dansby Swanson
- BAL: Rebuilding, non-contender
- BOS: Xander Bogaerts
- CHC: Javier Baez
- CWS: Tim Anderson
- CLE: Cutting costs
- COL: Trevor Story
- DET: Rebuilding, non-contender
- KC: Rebuilding, non-contender
- LAD: Corey Seager
- MIL: Lacking trade assets
- MIN: Jorge Polanco
- NYY: No love lost between Yankees and Correa, hard to see a fit
- OAK: Small-market team, unlikely to move controllable talent
- PHI: Lacking trade assets
- PIT: Rebuilding, non-contender
- SD: Fernando Tatis Jr.
- SF: Unlikely to target short-term assets
- SEA: Rebuilding, non-contender
- STL: Paul DeJong
- TB: Small-market team, unlikely to move controllable talent
- TEX: Cutting costs
- WAS: Trea Turner
The Cincinnati Reds have played the stopgap game at shortstop the past two seasons, using veterans Jose Iglesias and Freddy Galvis. That makes them one of the few contenders around baseball with a legitimate void at the position. Jose Garcia could be viewed as the long-term answer, but they could also be major players in a 2021-22 free-agent market that is flush with shortstop talent.
The Return Package
- SS Jose Garcia (No. 99 in B/R Top 100)
- IF Jonathan India (Next 50 in B/R Top 100)
- RHP Joel Kuhnel
Jose Garcia signed for $5 million after defecting from Cuba in 2017, and he put together a breakout 2019 season when he hit .280/.343/.436 with 46 extra-base hits in 104 games at High-A.
The Reds saw enough in that performance to jump him straight to the majors for a 24-game debut in 2020. He was overmatched offensively, posting a .194 average and 26 strikeouts in 68 plate appearances, but that was to be expected, and he still possesses all the tools to be a standout two-way shortstop.
Packaging him with Jonathan India would give the Astros two young position players on the cusp of the majors.
India, 23, was the No. 5 pick in the 2018 draft after posting a 1.213 OPS with 21 home runs during his junior season at the University of Florida. That power has not yet translated to the pros, but his polished overall game and defensive versatility give him a high floor, and there's still a ton of untapped potential.
The Astros organization loves elite velocity, and Joel Kuhnel provides that with a 70-grade fastball that reaches triple digits and a solid slider. A starter in college, the 25-year-old has been used exclusively as a reliever in pro ball and been a steady performer while climbing the ranks.
Los Angeles Angels
Defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons has been the starting shortstop for the Los Angeles Angels each of the past five seasons, but the 31-year-old is a free agent, and the team might be ready to move on. David Fletcher could take over shortstop full time if L.A. can't find a replacement or prefers to go after a second baseman. For now, the Angels are worth including in the conversation for any of the market's top shortstops.
The Return Package
- OF Jordyn Adams (Next 50 in B/R Top 100)
- IF Jeremiah Jackson (Next 50 in B/R Top 100)
- RHP Oliver Ortega
If the Angels are going to part with any of their top-tier prospect talent, it should be to improve a thin starting rotation that has been their undoing several years running.
However, that need for pitching didn't stop them from signing Anthony Rendon last offseason.
With Mike Trout, Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh shaping up to be the outfield of the future, toolsy outfielder Jordyn Adams is a logical trade candidate. The No. 17 pick in the 2018 draft has 80-grade speed and an intriguing mix of contact and power potential. He's still a long way from reaching his ceiling, but it's a high one.
Pairing him with slugging infield prospect Jeremiah Jackson should be enough to get Houston's attention. The 20-year-old has some swing-and-miss issues to iron out, but after homering 23 times in 65 games at rookie ball in 2019, he's on the rise.
Oliver Ortega struck out 135 batters in 111 innings in High-A and Double-A in 2019. He's a bit undersized at 6'0" and 165 lbs, and questions remain about his changeup as a viable third offering, but his fastball-curveball combination gives a high reliever floor. The 24-year-old could knock on the door by the end of 2021.
After sneaking into the expanded playoff field with a 31-29 record and then upsetting the Chicago Cubs in the NL Wild Card Series, the Miami Marlins could try to push up their perceived timeline after entering 2020 in rebuild mode. If they view themselves as immediate contenders, trading for Correa and hammering out a long-term deal could give them another major building block.
The Return Package
- RHP Edward Cabrera (No. 84 in B/R Top 100)
- SS Jose Devers
- RHP Jorge Guzman
- RHP Jeff Brigham
Edward Cabrera's upside could make this a more appealing trade package than others with more notable secondary pieces. It all depends on what the Astros are eyeing.
Cabrera, 22, has a talented arm with a 70-grade fastball that reaches triple digits and a hard-biting 60-grade slider. He's made good progress with his changeup as a viable third pitch, and he has smoothed out his mechanics while adding strength to his 6'5", 217-pound frame.
With Sixto Sanchez, Pablo Lopez and Sandy Alcantara established in the MLB rotation, and others like Braxton Garrett, Trevor Rogers and Max Meyer still part of the prospect ranks, perhaps the front office would part with Cabrera in the right deal, despite his obvious upside.
Jose Devers and Jorge Guzman were the two prospects acquired along with Starlin Castro in the 2017 deal that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees. Devers is still just 20 years old with a 55-grade hit tool and solid defensive skills, while Guzman is trying to harness a 70-grade fastball that has touched 103 mph.
Jeff Brigham showed some intriguing stuff out of the MLB bullpen in 2019, posting a 4.46 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 38.1 innings over 32 appearances. He averaged 96.9 mph with his fastball and limited hitters to an .044 ISO with a slider he threw nearly 50 percent of the time. A pair of remaining options adds to his value as a flexible roster piece.
This package might seem light, but keep in mind Correa is a one-year rental in terms of value. Also, Cabrera is far and away the best prospect included in any of these trade proposals.
New York Mets
The New York Mets used Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez at shortstop in 2020, and the two former top prospects combined for a punchless .257/.309/.385 line. If they are indeed all-in on the 2021 season and winning now, shortstop looks like an obvious spot to upgrade.
The Return Package
- SS Amed Rosario
- RHP Josh Wolf
- RHP Joander Suarez
- RHP Franklyn Kilome
Are the Mets ready to pull the plug on Rosario?
The former top prospect showed signs of breaking out in 2019 when he hit .319/.351/.453 in 299 plate appearances after the All-Star break, but he failed to build off that with a 76 OPS+ in 46 games in 2020.
The emergence of Gimenez has also seemingly pushed him down the depth chart, and he might be viewed as an expendable piece in the right deal. The Astros could swap him in as the starting shortstop in 2021 and slide him to a utility role if they find an upgrade down the line.
The real prize of this deal is Josh Wolf, who sits just outside the "Next 50" group in on our Top 100 prospect list and is a pitching prospect who could quickly become a household name.
The 20-year-old was given an above-slot $2.15 million bonus as a second-round pick in 2019, and with a projectable 6'3" frame and the makings of three plus pitches, he would immediately be the No. 2 pitching prospect in the Houston system behind Forrest Whitley.
Joander Suarez is the type of low-level, high-ceiling pitching prospect teams often target as secondary pieces in blockbuster deals, and his fastball-slider combination shows good potential for a 20-year-old.
Rounding out the package is Franklyn Kilome, a talented right-hander who has struggled to stay healthy in recent years. His power stuff may fit best in the bullpen, and that could also help keep him on the field. The 25-year-old is out of minor league options, so he would need to be part of the MLB roster.
Toronto Blue Jays
Early reports seem to indicate that the Toronto Blue Jays are planning to make a splash this offseason, and swinging a trade for Correa would certainly qualify. Fitting him into the lineup would mean shuffling around Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, perhaps with Biggio moving to third base and Bichette shifting to second base. Sorting out the infield alignment would be a good problem to have.
The Return Package
- SS Orelvis Martinez (Next 50 in B/R Top 100)
- C Gabriel Moreno
- RHP Patrick Murphy
- OF Derek Fisher
If the Astros want to gamble on upside rather than targeting players who are close to MLB-ready, this will be an intriguing package.
Orelvis Martinez signed for $3.5 million during the 2018 international period, and he made his pro debut stateside in 2019. He hit .275/.352/.549 with 20 extra-base hits in 40 games as a 17-year-old in rookie ball to cement his place as one of the sport's top teenage prospects.
He's drawn comparisons to a young Adrian Beltre and should be able to handle a similar move to third base if his physical development pushes him off shortstop.
Catcher Gabriel Moreno joined the Toronto organization with considerably less fanfare, signing for just $25,000 in 2016, but he has outperformed expectations. He hit .280/.337/.485 with 17 doubles and 12 home runs as a teenager at Single-A in 2019 while also throwing out 33 percent of base stealers behind the dish.
Those two could both move onto leaguewide Top 100 prospect lists in short order.
Patrick Murphy is an MLB-ready arm in some capacity. He has been developed as a starter since going in the third round of the 2013 draft, but his dynamic fastball-curveball pairing would undoubtedly play up in the bullpen. He allowed one earned run in six relief innings in his first MLB action in 2020.
Rounding out the package, outfielder Derek Fisher finds his way back to Houston, where he was once a Top 100 prospect before being shipped to Toronto in the 2019 Aaron Sanchez trade. He's out of options and does not have a clear path to playing time with the Blue Jays but could snag a spot as a fourth outfielder back in Houston.