Correa discusses latest contract offer

Astros shortstop won't budge on April 1 deadline to sign new deal

March 26th, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- After rejecting a contract offer reportedly worth $120 million over six years that he received a couple of weeks ago, Astros shortstop said on Thursday that he doesn’t think he will reach an extension with the club and is preparing to hit free agency when the regular season ends.

Correa said earlier this year that he would need to sign an extension by April 1 -- the start of the regular season -- or he would become a free agent for the first time. Correa said on Thursday that there have been no negotiations with the Astros since the offer, which he categorized as “really low.” The offer was reported by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Wednesday.

“I’m preparing like I’m going to be a free agent this year,” said Correa, who avoided arbitration by signing an $11.7 million deal this offseason.

With the Astros set to open the regular season in a week, Correa said there is no wiggle room on the deadline he imposed.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “Once the season starts and I start playing, I’m playing my last season before I become a free agent. For me, it doesn’t make any sense to be dealing while I’m trying to focus and trying to perform and trying to help my team win ballgames. So, yeah, absolutely not.”

Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, joined Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and George Springer as the four homegrown cornerstone players of the Astros’ postseason runs the last few years, culminating with a World Series championship in 2017. Houston has already signed Altuve and Bregman to extensions, but Springer signed a free-agent deal with the Blue Jays this offseason.

“I understand it’s a business and I know how it goes,” Correa said. “There’s never emotions involved. I’ve given five, six years of my career to this organization -- Rookie of the Year, All-Star Games, World Series champions, multiple great playoff performances. And if they don’t see me here long-term, then another team will. It’s never hard feelings. It’s a business and how it works.”

Correa made his Major League debut on June 8, 2015, at 20 years old, and he earned the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Over the next six years, he hit .276 with 107 homers, 397 RBIs and an .833 OPS in 604 games, and he was the starting shortstop for the AL in the 2017 All-Star Game. He’s grown into the team leader.

“When I share my feelings towards the city and towards the team, obviously, I love what we built here,” Correa said. “I’ve been a part of it since I got drafted in 2012, when the team was losing 111 games. I kind of feel like I’m one of the leaders of the team and I love everything about this organization, but at the same time, I know what I’m worth. I understand the business. I’m educated on this matter. I would love to stay, but it’s gotta be the right deal.”

Earlier this year, Astros general manager James Click said the club was “very open” to an extension for Correa. If Correa does reach free agency, he would be 27 years old and the youngest from among a talented group of potential free-agent shortstops next offseason: Francisco Lindor, Javier Báez, Trevor Story and Corey Seager.

When 22-year-old Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. signed a 14-year, $340 million contract extension earlier this spring, Correa tweeted: “Love to see it. Congrats Fernando.”

Correa said he was thrilled for teammate and friend Lance McCullers Jr., who agreed to a five-year, $85 million extension on Wednesday. They were both drafted in 2012 and came through the organization together.

“My man’s been working his entire life for this moment and he got paid what he’s worth,” Correa said. “He’s super happy with his deal. If my man is happy, I’m happy. I saw him last night … and gave him a big hug. Hopefully, we can celebrate soon together with some wine and all that stuff we like. I’m super happy for him. It could not happen to a better human being. He loves Houston, so he’s a great leader not only for the team, but also for the city of Houston.”

Correa hit .264/.326/.383 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 58 games in the 2020 regular season before batting .362/.455/.766 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 13 games in an electric postseason. Correa said he figured out something with his swing in the postseason and he is excited about the thoughts of carrying those changes into the 2021 regular season.

“My swing feels sexy,” Correa said. “I’m barreling balls everywhere and seeing balls great. I’ve never felt better in the last week of Spring Training in my career. This is the best I felt. Defensively, I feel great and am getting great jumps at shortstop. My at-bats, I’ve been barreling a lot of balls lately. That gives you a lot of confidence going into the season and makes you feel good.”