HOUSTON -- With star shortstop Carlos Correa set to become a free agent at the end of the season, Astros owner Jim Crane said Thursday the club will make a run at trying to re-sign one of its cornerstone players.
In the spring, Correa said the two sides “were not close at all” to reaching a deal, with Houston making offers of six years and $120 million, and then five years and $125 million. Correa said he didn’t want to negotiate with the Astros until the end of the season, but he hasn’t ruled out returning to Houston.
“We’re certainly very appreciative of how he played and how he leads the team,” Crane said Thursday, prior to Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park. “He’s a great guy. We’ll definitely be in the mix as the season gets over and it’s time to address that.”
Correa, 27, had a terrific season and figures to be one of the winter’s top free-agent targets. He led all Major League position players in bWAR and hit .278 with 34 doubles, a career-high 26 homers and 92 RBIs. He also led all shortstops in defensive runs saved and continued to blossom in the role of a team leader.
“Everybody loves Carlos,” Crane said. “How can you not love him? He plays hard, he’s very infectious with his leadership, and he’s a great guy, and he’s been a brand here since he got here. He’s a heck of an athlete.”
The Astros figure to have some payroll flexibility this winter, with the contracts of Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander coming off the books. The club record for the biggest contract remains the five-year, $151 million extension Jose Altuve signed in 2018. The longest free-agent contract handed out since Crane bought the club prior to the 2012 season was Josh Reddick’s four-year, $52 million deal prior to the 2017 season.
If the Astros lose Correa, it would be the second consecutive season the team’s Most Valuable Player left in free agency. Outfielder George Springer, the team’s 2020 MVP, signed with the Blue Jays on Jan. 23.
“I never count anything out,” Crane said. “We haven’t done [megadeals] in the past. We have a history of doing something in the neighborhood of five [years]. That’s the most I’ve ever done since I've been here. Things can change. We’re not counting it out.”
Correa is a close friend and considers himself a contemporary of Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, who signed a 10-year, $341 million contract extension on April 4. Correa has said Lindor set the market for shortstops. Correa is 10 months younger than Lindor and has a higher career bWAR (34.1) than Lindor (31.1).
“It just depends on where we are with that and what Carlos wants to do,” Crane said. “Certainly, dollars are a factor.”
Crane, whose team is in the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons, said his objective remains to put a competitive playoff team on the field every year.
“People always refer to 'the window,' and 'the window might be closing,'” he said. “Listen, while I’m here, the window is always going to be open. We’ve got the resources to put into the team. We’ve shown that with the payroll that we carry, because we’ve got great fans and great attendance and we’ll be able to afford to do that.”