MLB Rumors: Latest on Carlos Correa Contract Extension, Ke'Bryan Hayes, More

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IMarch 25, 2021

MLB Rumors: Latest on Carlos Correa Contract Extension, Ke'Bryan Hayes, More

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Opening Day 2021 is just one week away, which—for many players—also means there is a week to sign contract extensions.

    A lot of players do not want to deal with the hassle of contract negotiations during the season. The offseason and spring training usually offer the best chance for teams to lock up homegrown talent. The Houston Astros are one such team trying to make moves.

    Here are some of the latest rumors regarding Houston's shortstop Carlos Correa, as well as the Pittsburgh Pirates' hopes of striking a deal with Ke'Bryan Hayes and why one team backed out on signing Kirby Yates this past winter.

Astros Working on Correa Extension After Inking Lance McCullers Jr.

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Astros made an aggressive play to lock up one of their impending free agents on Wednesday.

    Jeff Passan of ESPN was among those to report Houston signed right-handed starter Lance McCullers Jr. to a five-year, $85 million extension. McCullers was slated to be a free agent after the 2021 season. Instead, he will be an integral part of the team's future rotation.

    The Astros have also been working on extending Carlos Correa.

    Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the Astros made Correa an offer in the neighborhood of six years and $120 million. Heyman said there is "no traction" as of now.

    The value is the same as the deal signed by Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts in the spring of 2019. But Correa likely could make more than the $20 million average annual value reportedly being offered as of now.

    Correa is only entering his age-26 season. He has a career 126 OPS+ and plays excellent defense at shortstop. His age and talent are attractive, even if there have been durability issues over the course of his six-year career.

    It remains to be seen whether the two sides can work things out in the next week. Correa set Opening Day as an unofficial deadline back in February, so the clock could be ticking. 

    The Astros have some cash coming off the books with both Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander headed for free agency after the season. They likely will need to dig into that payroll space a bit if they hope sign Correa to a long-term deal and prevent him from hitting the open market.

Pirates Trying to Lock Up Ke'Bryan Hayes

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Trying to extend talented young players is becoming increasingly popular in baseball, at least from a team perspective. But these extensions can be hard to pull off.

    Some players prefer the immediate security. The Atlanta Braves signed both Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies to extensions in 2019, and the Chicago White Sox bought out the arbitration years of young guys like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.

    However, others sometimes prefer to let the process run its course. Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Ke'Bryan Hayes might be in the latter group. Jon Heyman reported the Bucs offered Hayes an extension, which apparently has been rebuffed. 

    Hayes was terrific in his MLB debut in 2020. He needed just 24 games to lead the Pirates in WAR. The 24-year-old slashed .376/.442/.682 with a 202 OPS+

    The success has continued this spring. Hayes has been terrific over the course of the last month, hitting .447 with eight extra-base hits and seven RBI in 13 games.

    It comes as no surprise Pittsburgh would want to extend Hayes considering the youngster has flashed tremendous potential. As successful as Hayes has been at the plate, he projects even better in the field. Hayes earned a 75 (out of 80) fielding grade from

    However, Hayes' decision to turn down an early extension is far from astonishing. The Pirates are still in the early stages of what might be a long and arduous rebuild. Not locking himself in gives Hayes options should Pittsburgh still be at the bottom of the National League Central when he is approaching free agency.

Kirby Yates' Warning Signs

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    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    The Toronto Blue Jays received some poor news on Tuesday.

    General manager Ross Atkins revealed closer Kirby Yates "most likely" (h/t Keegan Matheson of needs Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. Yates had been diagnosed with a flexor strain, but appears to be done for the season after getting a second opinion.

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the Blue Jays knew the risk of signing Yates.

    Rosenthal reported the Atlanta Braves were on the verge of finalizing a one-year, $9 million deal with Yates before a physical prompted some concerns and scrapped the deal. The Blue Jays snatched Yates off the market, but reduced the initial value of $8.5 million to $5.5 million.

    Yates made six appearances in 2020 before undergoing surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow. Toronto took a chance on the Hawaii native in the hopes he could more closely resemble the guy with a 1.19 ERA and MLB-best 41 saves in 2019. Instead, Yates will be on the shelf.

    This is tough news for both parties. The Blue Jays otherwise could have spent that money on another reliever or a starting pitcher. Meanwhile, Yates could be hard-pressed to get a good contract this winter considering he will be coming off his second Tommy John surgery and also turning 35 next March.


    All stats obtained via Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.