I was doing a live stream on Twitter a little bit ago, and someone asked why the deal between the Houston Astros and Carlos Correa wasn’t done yet. I started with my standard answer that it’s likely because it’s just a super complicated contract with all kinds of opt outs and protections and incentives and weirdness, so it takes a long time to get that just right.
But in the course of offering my answer, I was talking about how my thinking got pretty much set in stone when Astros ownership got involved on Sunday … and that caught me a bit (as did some of the commenters). Time has gotten so blurry this week, but that was four full days ago. And a revised offer was supposed to be coming shortly thereafter, around mid-day on Tuesday. That was two and a half days ago. That’s kind of a long time for this to play out. You had ownership getting involved on Sunday, and then another day and a half to prepare the complicated revised offer based on whatever understanding you had on Sunday. And then ANOTHER two and a half days after that revised offer to … finalize … something? Yeah, OK. You got me. That does seem kinda long if it was already more or less “agreed” on Sunday that these two wanted to marry back up. Which is what I’d been presuming. Maybe I was wrong about that.
Then a few minutes later, the live stream fills up with talk about Ken Rosenthal’s latest on this very topic. And since we haven’t actually HEARD any updates on Correa and the Astros since Monday, it was perfectly timed, and I wanted to discuss a bit here.
*Why Yankees took on Donaldson’s money
*Olson, Swanson finally together with Braves
*Orioles’ connection to Correa
*How salary arbitration will work
*Fears of shortened spring training
*Pitchers happy to give up hitting
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 18, 2022
As you can see in the tease there, Rosenthal talks about whether (why and or why not) the Orioles would get involved with Correa as something like the cornerstone of turning the page on their rebuild. That could make sense, not unlike what happened when the Orioles began their rebuild – they traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers, and then he signed an over-the-top monster deal with the Padres … a team just coming out of their own rebuild and ready to turn the page. So maybe that’s the Orioles now with Correa. I leave it to you to check out Rosenthal’s piece there on the Orioles, which is pretty inconclusive, and I personally would speculate that it’s more likely that someone out there is floating the Orioles in order to put some pressure on the Astros. (If the Orioles actually were to sign Correa, I’m gonna say it would require a deal that is just gonna blow your mind.)
What really stood out, though, was the Astros part of the piece. This:
…. But many in the industry suspect Correa will wind up back with the Astros, perhaps on a short deal rather than the long-term, $350 million contract he desires.
Astros owner Jim Crane told Mark Berman of Houston’s Fox 26 on Sunday that the team has reached out to Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, and they were “in discussions.” Those talks, however, seem to be generating little progress. While talks are fluid, and can change with one phone call, some with the Astros are pessimistic about the team’s chances of bringing Correa back.
So the industry expectation remains: Astros. Yet now, for the first time since Sunday, we’re hearing about some internal pessimism that a deal will get done?
If that’s true, then that means there must be at least one other aggressive bidder out there, since you can’t “lose” Correa to no one. Of course, you have to keep in mind: why is this information reaching Rosenthal at all? Even if there *IS* another bidder out there, wouldn’t it be in Scott Boras’s interest to keep pushing the Astros on that fact? To perhaps get them to finish things up? Maybe even raise the grisly specter of a surprising club like the Orioles popping up to make a huge offer? (To be clear, I’m not saying Rosenthal is doing anyone’s bidding for them! I’m saying only that, whatever is happening behind the scenes, it does still make the most logical sense that pressure is being applied to the Astros.)
In any case, yes, I will admit, it is fair to wonder why a deal isn’t done yet. Why, if the sides are more or less on the same page, there is still this kind of seemingly public pressure campaign to push the Astros at all. I don’t have a great answer for that. Maybe we’ll find out eventually.
As for the Cubs, I think what I’ve always thought: they really do want Correa, and they are hanging around at the periphery because of that on the 5% hope that something crazy happens. But I have never thought they would go 10+ years, and I don’t think Correa is going to have to take the kind of seven-year deal the Cubs would want to do. Moreover, I still suspect that today’s Jonathan Villar signing, while not a direct response to whatever is happening with Correa, is possibly an acknowledgement from the Cubs that it is unlikely they will land Correa, and they should get their ducks in a row so they don’t lose a solid short-term piece because they were waiting on that unlikely outcome.
Again, I could be wrong on all of this, and if you want to be more hopeful than I am about the Cubs and Correa still being a very alive possibility, I say God bless. Fan how you want to fan. On this one, I’d much rather you were right than I was right! I just don’t want to be on here being the cause of any hopes I think are unfair.
The best I can extend in that direction is that, yes, as of tonight, I admit that it does seem like this is taking a long time to get the deal done with the Astros (if it was as far along as I thought it was earlier in the week). I don’t know what to make of that. It could, in fact, mean that there is a real divide there (hence the reported pessimism in the organization).
Note, though: Rosenthal does not mention the Cubs in his Correa section. He does not mention the Red Sox, either, for the record. Only the Astros and the long-shot Orioles.