Click talks Astros' future, moving on from Correa

March 23rd, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A television at one end of the Astros clubhouse at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Wednesday morning showed a smiling Carlos Correa slipping on a Twins jersey during his introductory press conference across the state in Fort Myers. The volume was on mute, and a few Astros players gave a cursory glance, but most went about their daily business.

“That’s a weird sight,” one player said as he walked past.

It’s clear the Astros are ready to move on from losing their star shortstop in free agency, and his expected replacement -- rookie Jeremy Peña -- made his first start of the spring Tuesday against the Cardinals. With the Correa news becoming official, general manager James Click sat down with on Wednesday to discuss the Astros’ pursuit of Correa and where the team goes from here.

Q: With the Correa signing becoming official, what was your pursuit of him like and did the Astros feel they were in it towards the end?

A: “We were engaged throughout the process. It’s always hard to know, you know, are you in it or are you not in these types of negotiations. One phone call can change anything. We were engaged throughout the process. Ultimately, he did choose to go to Minnesota. It’s a tough blow for all of us but that’s how these things go sometimes.”

Q: Did you make him an offer post-lockout? (The Astros’ last reported offer was five years, $160 million in November.)

A: “I don’t want to get into too many of the details about the back and forth of it except to say we were engaged throughout the process. We were optimistic. Ultimately, it didn’t work out. We certainly wish him the best. Really happy for him and his family. I think it’s a great organization, a great team. He’s going to have a great impact on them.”

Q: Were the opt-outs in his contract something that the Astros weren’t willing to do? Was that a deal-breaker?

A: “Nothing’s a deal-breaker. We’re always open to different concepts. There were a lot of creative ideas that floated around back and forth, but ultimately we’re going to do what we feel like is the best for the team. We’re going to continue to run an organization that aggressively invests in a Major League roster just as we have for the past few years. We have been one of the most successful teams in baseball for the past five years, and along with that we’ve been one of the most aggressive investors in our Major League roster for the past few years. That will continue; that will not change. We just have to make the decisions we feel are best for the organization to continue to put a highly competitive team out there. Even without Carlos, we feel really good with the team we have. We feel we are in a good position to compete for this year and for the foreseeable future.”

Q: You have lost several big-name free agents the last few years and continue to compete, but can you sustain another key loss like Carlos and be a threat in the AL?

A: “We feel really good about the roster we have. We certainly feel like we can be a threat in the American League this year, and we have quite a few very, very talented players under control for the next few years. There’s no thought to the window closing. We think we can be very competitive. The loss of players over the years is always difficult, but at the same time I think it’s a credit to this organization, how it runs top to bottom, that it’s able to continue to find and generate talent that allows us to, along with a payroll that’s towards the top of the league, to compete in and out every single year and be one of the most successful teams in baseball.”

Q: Speaking of payroll, the team has some room now under the $230 million CBT. Is that something you can use going into the season or at the Trade Deadline to add some pieces if you have to? How do you look at having extra money? (FanGraphs estimates the Astros’ payroll currently at about $174 million.)

A: “It’s always critical to make sure we have some dry powder into the season because something is going to happen along the way that we’re going to need to address. Last year, we made a lot of aggressive moves at the Trade Deadline to try to shore up the bullpen. Back in 2019, the team was aggressive to go out and get Zack Greinke. We have a history of doing that and we plan to continue that. I would push back a little bit on the room on the payroll. Sometimes people assume the CBT line is our payroll. That’s not necessarily the case. It’s not a cap. It’s also not an indication of our budget, but we are going to use up to and sometimes over the limit of our financial capacity to continue to put a competitive team on the field.”

Q: So what is your budget this year?

A: “That is a constant conversation between [owner] Jim Crane and myself. I think he has shown over the past few years he is the owner who, when we have it in our sights, he is willing to be aggressive about it and put his chips on the table and make sure we have everything we need to compete year in and year out.”