Best Landing Spots for Carlos Correa After Rejecting $120M Astros Extension

Abbey MastraccoContributor IMarch 26, 2021

Best Landing Spots for Carlos Correa After Rejecting $120M Astros Extension

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    The enduring image of the 2017 World Series is Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa proposing to his then-girlfriend and now-wife, Daniella, on the field at Dodger Stadium. The Astros had just won their first World Series in franchise history, and they looked formidable enough to win a few more. 

    But it's starting to look like this year might be the last for the Houston super team. A lot has changed since 2017, and even more has changed since winning the American League pennant in 2019. 

    There was Trashcan Gate, the cheating scandal that was made public a few months after the Washington Nationals defeated the Astros in the World Series. There were also a few high-profile players who exited Houston. Gerrit Cole went to the Yankees in 2020. George Springer went to the Blue Jays in 2021.

    Carlos Correa could be next. 

    According to Jon Heyman, Correa rejected a six-year, $120 million contract extension. If an agreement isn't reached between the two parties, Correa could hit the open market as a free agent next winter and be the youngest in a class that could end up featuring some elite shortstops; Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, Javier Baez and Corey Seager do not have contracts past the 2020 season. 

    It's a big "if" because there is still time to get a deal done, and he has expressed a desire to remain in Houston. However, he also said he doesn't want to have to negotiate during the season. 

    Houston's offer to Correa was essentially the same offer Xander Bogaerts accepted from the Boston Red Sox entering the 2019 season. There are some notable differences between the two players and the two situations. Bogaerts was 26 at the time and coming off a huge season. Correa just turned 26 in September. His age could get him a big payday as a free agent. 

    So, with that said, let's explore some potential fits for Correa next season.   

Cincinnati Reds

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Reds are hoping the answer at shortstop this season is Eugenio Suarez. They signed Mike Moustakas as a free agent to man the hot corner, so Suarez will move over to shortstop and Kyle Farmer will push him for at-bats. Suarez is still under contract through 2024 with an option year in 2025, but the 29-year-old's offensive numbers declined over the last two seasons, and he hasn't played shortstop full-time since 2015. 

    The answer in the future could be Jose Garcia, but that could depend on how much he develops this season in the minor leagues. Garcia is only 22, so he may not be ready by next season either.

    Correa could be the answer. He's younger and more consistent than Suarez, and it would give Garcia time to develop.

    However, the Reds need players like Garcia to develop because they're unlikely to pay a player $20 million or more a year.

San Francisco Giants

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Giants may be getting ready to say goodbye to a franchise face in Brandon Crawford. The Bay Area native lived out his childhood dream winning two World Series with the team that drafted him out of UCLA. The Giants are well past their dynasty days, but the outlook for the team is good after prioritizing the farm system in recent seasons. 

    The Giants signed shortstop prospect Marco Luciano out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, and he has already been exposed to high-level pitching after spending time at the Giants' alternate site in 2020. Scouts like his raw bat speed and power, but the keyword there is raw. He's only 19. 

    San Francisco could look to a player like Correa to bridge the gap, but that doesn't make a ton of sense if Luciano is only a few years away from contributing in the major leagues. Luciano is the best prospect in a decade, and players like Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. have proved it's possible to play at an elite level before the age of 21. B/R's Joel Rueter ranks Luciano No. 30 in his top 100 prospects. ranks him No. 16

    A better option for the Giants: Re-sign Crawford for two years. He's still productive at the plate, his defense is good and he brings tremendous leadership to a clubhouse that is going to get significantly younger over the next five years.   

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Corey Seager will be a free agent after the 2021 season. The club's payroll is often among the highest in the league, and it will be the highest in 2021 by a long shot. The Dodgers blew past the luxury tax threshold over the winter, so money is not really an obstacle for the defending World Series champs.

    If the Dodgers brass really wants to build a juggernaut, then Correa could help them do that if no deal can be reached to extend Seager. Like Correa, Seager doesn’t want to negotiate a contract during the season, deeming it a distraction.

    Seager and Correa are both 26 and boast comparable numbers. It might behoove the Dodgers to extend their homegrown star before he gets a chance to test the market, but if Seager decides to go elsewhere, then maybe Correa heads west.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    The story with this team has been the same for years: The Halos need to do everything in their power to get Mike Trout to the playoffs. It would be an absolute travesty if the best player in the game never won a World Series, but at this point, an AL Wild Card berth might feel like a victory. The Angels haven't been to the playoffs since 2014 when they were swept by the Kansas City Royals

    The club has Albert Pujols coming off the books at the end of the 2021 season and only one shortstop under contract in 2022, Franklin Barreto, a utility infielder. Jose Iglesias is slotted in as the starting shortstop this season, but he's only signed through 2021. 

    The Angels might be in the shadow of the Dodgers, but they're not a small-market club. Orange County is in the Los Angeles media market, and the club boasts the league’s seventh-highest payroll. They've handed out big deals to aging veterans in the past, like Pujols and Josh Hamilton, but Correa is not exactly an aging veteran. He'll be 27 next season and is an impact player. 

    Trout needs impact players around him, and Correa would make the Halos a much better, much deeper team.    

New York Mets

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Mets made a huge splash over the winter when they traded for shortstop Francisco Lindor. The club is banking on being able to extend him, sending shortstop Amed Rosario and one of their top prospects at the same position, Andrew Gimenez, to Cleveland in exchange for one of the most dynamic middle infielders in baseball. 

    But it's been a few months since Lindor landed in Queens and no long-term deal has been made. Much like Seager and Correa, Lindor doesn't want to negotiate during the season, though he said the two sides are "just talking" about an extension. 

    If the Mets are willing to spend north of $300 million for Lindor then Correa wouldn't be out of reach. These aren't the same Mets under Steve Cohen, this team has made it known that it will spend the money required to bring in elite talent. Correa is elite, so if they can't retain Lindor then they should absolutely make a play for Correa.    

Seattle Mariners

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    No one loves wheeling and dealing more than general manager Jerry Dipoto. The Mariners' general manager once finalized a trade from a hospital bed, trading for Edwin Encarnacion during the 2018 winter meetings while being treated for blood clots. Could a deal be made for Correa? 

    The Mariners are rebuilding, but there comes a time in every rebuild that money needs to be spent. Seattle has Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez on the way, and Dipoto will need to find more players to put around those two in order to capitalize on their best years. 

    J.P. Crawford is the current Mariners' shortstop, and while he's a solid, cheaper option, he's not as good as Correa. He doesn't have nearly the power that Correa has. 

    Signing Correa to a free agent deal next winter would signal to the rest of baseball that the Mariners are ready to end the rebuild and push to contend in the AL West once again. Signing a player from a rival AL West team would make an even bigger statement.

Houston Astros

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    We're only six days away from the start of the regular season, so the clock is ticking if he refuses to negotiate in-season. But Opening Day may not be a hard deadline. 

    Correa didn't exactly have a banner year in 2020. He hit just .264 with a .709 OPS. The pandemic-shortened season affected everyone differently, though, so last season could be an outlier. If he starts off hot in 2021, he may be more inclined to test the free-agent waters next winter. 

    But there is something to be said for taking a deal with Houston. He hasn't exactly been the most durable shortstop, with four trips to the injured list 2017 and other games missed because of other injuries. 

    Maybe it's not a team-friendly deal, but Correa says he's interested in staying in Houston, and if that's the case, then maybe there is still a deal to be made in the coming days or next winter.