THE PALLILOG

How Astros could get creative with final offer to Carlos Correa

Would Correa accept a record-breaking short-term contract? Composite image by Jack Brame.

After surprisingly renewing vows with Justin Verlander, the Astros probably have one more "Wow!" move left in their offseason. Adding outfielder Starling Marte or shortstop Trevor Story would qualify. The 33-year-old Marte would be an excellent get if on no more than a three-year deal. Story is overrated by many because of stats accrued in Denver's mile high freak show hitting environment, but he's good and certainly projects as better than prospect Jeremy Pena. Re-upping reliever Kendall Graveman wouldn't be a "Wow!" move but retaining Ryan Pressly's number one set-up man matters.

Keeping Carlos Correa is extremely unlikely to be the "Wow!" move. If Correa is hellbent on topping Francisco Lindor's 10 year 341 million dollar contract with the Mets, he may be waiting eternally, though as with Lindor it only takes one team desperate and/or stupid enough to go there. Even if Correa "settles" for say, a nice round 300 mil, the Astros are on highly reasonable ground in refusing to bid at that level.

Losing Correa will be a bummer. Talent, leadership, charisma, etc. Correa is coming off an outstanding 2021, but it is simple truth that 2021 is his only healthy and excellent season in the last five years. It is mythology that Correa has been a non-stop stud and annual postseason monster since he exploded on the scene as a 20-year-old phenom back in 2015. He was a mediocre player in 2018 and again in the short season of 2020. His postseason production was fantastic in 2017 and 2020, meh in '18, '19, and '21.

Correa is in his prime at 27 years old, but there is essentially no chance he is as good over the second half of a 10-year contract that he was this year. It's possible Correa doesn't match his 2021 going forward. If healthy I like his chances of putting up two or three more elite seasons, but note that during Jose Altuve's far and away two best seasons he turned 26 and 27 years old. Alex Bregman's two best may have come and gone when he turned 24 and 25. In the plus-sized shortstop department, Cal Ripken had just one great season after he turned 28.

The Astros' five year 160 million dollar offer was no insult, but also not remotely close to enough to strike a deal. If the Astros would stretch to seven years 225 million that would be a more than credible final offer. If another suitor or suitors dwarf that, so be it. One last thought is offering record breaking per year money in a shorter term proposal. Three years 125 million would sync up contract expiration with Altuve and Bregman after the 2024 season and enable Correa to be a free agent again at age 30. As confident as he is, I doubt Correa would bet on himself that way.

Texans back in action this Sunday

Well, we made it! Survived an autumn weekend without a Texans game. The resiliency of the human spirit is a wonderful thing. While the Astros keep doing things to extend their dynastic era of relentless championship contention, it's back to action this weekend for Houston's 2-ring circus clown we call the Texans and Rockets. Off their open (not bye!) week the Texans likely absorb their latest beating at Tennessee. The Titans are without injured beastly running back Derrick Henry. The Texans are without a credible NFL roster. Even minus Henry, the Titans being only 10 point favorites seems low. As this column posts (Friday November 19), the Texans last road touchdown came two months ago today. That's four games without reaching the end zone. Final scores of those games: 40-0, 31-3, 31-5, 17-9.

Amazingly, as pathetic as the 1-8 Texans are, and even with a presumed loss in Nashville, they could log their second win of the season before the Rockets get theirs. At 1-14, the Rockets play at the Knicks Saturday then at the Celtics Monday. So 1-16 looms probable ahead of home games next week against the surprisingly good Bulls and the never very good Hornets. Losing those two would mean a 17 game losing streak and a 1-18 record for the Rockets when the Texans play host to the lousy Jets a week from Sunday.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Correa finished fifth in American League Most Valuable Player balloting. Shohei Ohtani rightfully won. None of Ohtani, runner-up Vlad Guerrero Jr., or third place finisher Marcus Semien sniffed the playoffs. Last time no top three AL MVP finisher was in the postseason Bush was President. George Herbert Walker Bush. 1991. Before wild cards existed. None of the National League top three played in the postseason either. In the NL that last occurred only six years ago.

2. Warren Moon turned 65 Thursday. A year ago many would have bet that by maybe 2025 he'd be thought of as the second greatest quarterback in Houston's pro football history. Warren remains safe at number one for the foreseeable future.

3. Biggest 2021 Lone Star sports embarrassments: Bronze-Kansas 57 Texas 56 Silver-Rockets Gold-Texans

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As the baseball world waits to see how negotiations play out between players and owners, we weigh in on how the limitations under the luxury tax could limit the moves to improve the Astros pitching.

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