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Astros tender arb-eligibles, agree with Pruitt

Correa, McCullers, Díaz secured for 2021 with salary TBD
@brianmctaggart
December 2, 2020

HOUSTON -- As expected, the Astros on Wednesday tendered contracts to their three arbitration-eligible players: shortstop Carlos Correa, starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and utility infielder Aledmys Díaz. The club also announced it agreed to a one-year contract with right-hander Austin Pruitt. By tendering contracts to Correa, McCullers and Díaz,

HOUSTON -- As expected, the Astros on Wednesday tendered contracts to their three arbitration-eligible players: shortstop Carlos Correa, starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and utility infielder Aledmys Díaz. The club also announced it agreed to a one-year contract with right-hander Austin Pruitt.

By tendering contracts to Correa, McCullers and Díaz, the Astros have them signed for the 2021 season with a salary to be determined. The two sides can negotiate -- including a long-term extension -- until February, when a panel of arbitrators would choose the player’s salary from both sides' submitted amount.

The Astros, who also requested unconditional release waivers on pitcher Cy Sneed, have 38 spots filled on their 40-man roster. Wednesday’s deadline to tender contracts flooded the free-agent market with more names for the Astros to consider in their hunt for outfielders, relief pitching and catching depth.

Correa and McCullers are arbitration-eligible for the third and final time, meaning both will be free agents in a year if they don’t sign with Houston beyond the 2021 season. Díaz is in his second year of arbitration and will remain under club control through the ’22 season.

Correa, 26, is one of the elite shortstops in baseball, and proved it in ’20 when he was a finalist for the American League Gold Glove Award and eschewed a subpar regular season to hit .362 with six homers and 17 RBIs in the postseason to lead the Astros to within a game of the World Series. The former No. 1 overall Draft pick hit .264 with five homers and 25 RBIs in the regular season.

McCullers, 27, returned to the mound last season after missing 2019 following Tommy John surgery, and he went 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 starts. He posted a 2.18 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in his final eight starts of the regular season, and had an 11-strikeout performance in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against the Rays.

Díaz has missed 86 games due to injuries in two years with the Astros, including 30 in 2020. On the field, he hit .241 with three homers and six RBIs in 17 games last season and was 6-for-17 with a homer in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Pruitt agreed to a deal for 2021 worth $617,500, according to a source, after not appearing in a game last season. Acquired by the Astros last January, Pruitt underwent surgery Sept. 2 to repair a hairline fracture in his right elbow. He expects to return early next year.

Pruitt made 67 appearances for Tampa Bay from 2017-19, including 10 starts, posting a 4.87 ERA. He split the ’19 season between Triple-A Durham and the Major League club, with a 5.40 ERA in 18 appearances (six starts) for Durham and a 4.40 ERA over 14 games (two starts) for the Rays.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.