After turning down a pair of multiyear extension offers from the Astros this spring, Carlos Correa was unable to come to a deal with the club prior to his self-imposed Thursday deadline, meaning the star shortstop will be headed to free agency at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
“There’s no hard feelings,” Correa said. “It’s a business. They made it very clear to me. They said, ‘We don’t believe in long contracts. We don’t believe in big contracts.’ Once I hit free agency, I’m going to look after a big, long contract, and they made it very clear that they don’t believe in that.”
Correa said the two sides “were not close at all” in reaching a deal, with the Astros making offers of six years and $120 million, then five years and $125 million. Correa said he talked to Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, a close friend, for about an hour Wednesday night after Lindor agreed to a 10-year, $341 million contract extension.
“I love it,” Correa said. “It’s a great contract. He deserves every penny of it. I congratulated him. He pushed the market for every shortstop coming after him, and it’s always great to see a great player get rewarded like that.”
Correa, who turns 27 in September, would be the youngest of four standout shortstops on the free-agent market this winter, joining Javier Báez, Trevor Story and Corey Seager. Astros general manager James Click said the club’s window to negotiate with Correa remains open as the season starts.
“He’s been very upfront, obviously, publicly and with us, that once we get to Opening Day, he wants to focus on winning another championship for the city of Houston, and we respect that,” Click said Thursday. “Hopefully, we can pick it back up at the appropriate time. Our door is always open. He wants to focus on winning, and obviously, we do, too.”
The Astros now risk losing a third consecutive high-ticket free agent and a second member of the homegrown core that led them to the World Series title in 2017. Right-hander Gerrit Cole signed with the Yankees after the 2019 season, and outfielder George Springer signed with the Blue Jays this past winter. Houston extended righty Lance McCullers Jr. for five years and $85 million last month.
“I will always love the city, and this will always be my second home,” Correa said. “I love the fans here, and I know they love me back. But if it’s my last season, I’m going try to finish it with a championship. That’s my main goal this year, to go out there and win another championship for the city.”
The club record for the biggest contract remains the five-year, $151 million extension that Jose Altuve signed in 2018. The longest free-agent contract handed out since Jim Crane bought the club prior to the '12 season is Josh Reddick’s four-year, $52 million deal prior to the '17 season.
“From our perspective, we know how important Carlos is to our fans and our team and our city,” Click said. “It continues to be a great partnership both on the field and off the field with a lot of the charity work Carlos has done here and elsewhere. As we said, we’re going to keep details of the discussions private, and we’ll revisit it hopefully in the future.”
Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, hit .264/.326/.383 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 58 games in the regular season last year, before batting .362/.455/.766 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 13 postseason games. He started for the American League in the 2017 All-Star Game and was a Gold Glove Award finalist last year. Correa has grown into a team leader and is one of the most popular players on the club.