Here's how a lockout could impact free agency for Carlos Correa, Astros

The collective bargaining agreement expires December 1st. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Winning a silver medal at the Olympics is a tremendous achievement. It is only disappointing when compared specifically to winning the gold. The "second place is just first loser" position is stupid, if an amusing phrase. The Astros losing the World Series for the second time in three years was disappointing for them and all Astros' fans, but getting there for the third time in five years was spectacular. The Braves were clearly the better team over the run of the series and them winning it is a very, very minor upset. There is nothing to be learned from it for the Astros unless "hit and pitch better" are learning points.

So now what? The white-hot front burner story is the Carlos Correa watch. How many years, how many dollars, and of course, with what team? Correa can cut a deal as soon as Sunday night. As opposed to the NFL and NBA, typically in baseball the megadollar free agent deals don't happen when the green flag for signings drops. This is not a typical start to free agency however. The collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners expires December 1st. Without a deal a lockout ensues. Along with shutting off dealmaking, a lockout raises the possibility of an ugly drawn out negotiation that disrupts the start of next season, in turn raising the spectre of significant financial damage going forward. You'd like to think the two sides wouldn't be so stupid as to get there but we'll see. If that were to occur what would that mean for the money landscape? With that in mind does Correa lock in a deal before December 1? It's not as if his soon-to-be son's college fund is riding on it, but it's a consideration.

Let's say Correa commands eight years 250 million dollars. That's three years and 125 million more dollars than the Astros' last offer back in the spring. Would Jim Crane and partners swallow hard and go that far? How would Correa respond to Astros' willingness to match a quarter billion dollar offer as opposed to originating it themselves? Correa has talked of his Astros tenure in the past tense. Is that in part preparing himself for a reality of moving on if the Astros' offer is non-competitive? Is it strictly most years, most dollars? Does he want to become "The Man" elsewhere such as a Detroit or Seattle?

Unless accepting that the end years of the deal will be at least somewhat sunk cost, a team would be silly to offer longer than eight years. Even eight is pushing it. Correa is a big guy. It would be unprecedented for him to be an elite defensive shortstop at 34 or 35 years old. He certainly could move to third base or first base or left field as he ages, but Correa's premium value is because he plays a stellar shortstop in addition to usually being a very good offensive player. He is not an offensive superstar.

Full steam ahead for Texans and Rockets, kind of

The Astros' 2022 season is scheduled to open March 31 (please, please, please!) In the meantime we have the Texans and the Rockets. Gawd. They both enter the weekend with records of 1-7. The Texans Travesty drones on with the passing of the trade deadline and nothing happening with Deshaun Watson. Reports a couple weeks ago of a deal with the Dolphins being close were obviously bogus. No one was ponying up anything close to what Nick Caserio was seeking, so Watson will make his full 11.2 million dollar salary to never play this season.

Reminder, the Rockets are paying John Wall over 44 mil to never play this season. However, with their rebuild underway, while the Rockets won't be good for a while, they are not the laughingstock organization of their sport.

It feels more like 40 seasons ago than four that Chris Paul helped the Rockets get closer to the NBA Finals than they've otherwise been in the last quarter century. Before helping the Phoenix Suns beat the Rockets Thursday, Paul this week jumped Steve Nash for third on the NBA all-time assists list. Going forward, if Paul averaged 10 assists per game and never missed a game until he turns 42, he still wouldn't catch John Stockton for number one. The assists gap from Stockton to CP3 (with Jason Kidd in between) is larger than the gap between Paul and Jose Calderon who is 63rd. No Rocket fan favorite, and like Paul, NBA championship ring-less, but Stockton was amazing.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. The college basketball season starts Tuesday. Yes! Off its Final Four run UH opens ranked 15th. Kelvin Sampson's team is different but I'd bet a small fortune they will D up, pound the boards, and be pretty, pretty, pretty good. Final Four again? Of course not likely, but not impossible.

2. Had Watson been traded to the Dolphins a couple weeks ago he'd play against the Texans Sunday. THAT would have been a must-watch. Instead, the 1-7 Texans at the 1-7 Dolphins? Run! Run away!

3. Greatest Dolphins: Bronze-Artis Gilmore Silver-Dan Marino Gold-Flipper

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After another poor performance from former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns' season is starting to look like an uphill climb. Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb is out for the year, and Cleveland fans aren't too pleased with the way Watson is playing, especially considering the massive contract extension he signed with the team. And we didn't even get to the off the field drama that comes with Watson.

However, Houston fans are invested in the Browns' season outcome as well, with the Texans holding the Browns' first round pick in 2024, and having sent their own first rounder to the Cardinals in the Will Anderson trade.

So each loss for the Browns, means a better draft pick for the Texans!

For Houston, it looks like they have their QB of the future in CJ Stroud. And he'll be on a less expensive rookie contract for the next several years, giving the Texans more cap space to upgrade the roster.

With all of this in mind, is it fair to question if the Texans dodged a bullet when Watson demanded a trade?

DeMeco Ryans vs. Lovie Smith

Plus, we're only two games into the season, but Lovie Smith's defense was much better (with a similar roster) than what DeMeco Ryans' defense has shown thus far, and DeMeco has the benefit of Will Anderson rushing the QB.

Are the struggles on defense more about the roster GM Nick Caserio has put together, or does this slow start fall on DeMeco?

Don't miss the video above as we break it all down!

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And listen to The Bench with John Granato and Lance Zierlein weekday mornings on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM.

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