Identifying possible reasons Astros deal with Justin Verlander remains unsigned

Justin Verlander still hasn't signed his contract. Composite image by Jack Brame.

A long, cold baseball winter is upon us with the owners imposing a lockout which seems to have zero chance of ending before February at the earliest. No more free agent signings until a deal is struck, with Carlos Correa still unemployed after not getting any 10 year 350 million dollar offers. The Correa market should still be robust enough when negotiations can resume as to make it a long shot that the Astros wind up keeping him. It would be something if he winds up a Yankee. Or a Dodger.

Curious item first noted by MLB reporter Jon Heyman: Justin Verlander has to yet to sign the agreed upon two year 50 million dollar deal. There are multiple plausible simple and harmless possible explanations for that. But what if Verlander thinks he could command even more after seeing the the Mets give Max Scherzer three years 130 million? What if Verlander’s required physical raises a question mark that gives the Astros pause? As a pure hypothetical, if Verlander’s physical shows fine but the Astros could pivot and take that money to sufficiently sweeten a Correa offer that Carlos signs for say, seven years 250 mil…who do you sign?

Speaking of physicals, interesting note from ESPN’s Buster Olney that Correa has been reluctant to show teams his medical records until they make whopping offers. If accurate that makes little sense, and raises the question what’s in those records, particularly about Correa’s back which while holding up fine the last three years, caused him to miss a chunk of time and play very pedestrian ball in 2018. A la the Mets ridiculous 10 year 341 million dollar deal with Francisco Lindor last winter, that the Rangers were desperate and financially flexible enough to give Corey Seager 10 years 325 million does not make it incumbent upon some team to match or exceed that for Correa.

College coaches on the move

What a week on the college football coaching front with Lincoln Riley bolting Oklahoma for USC hours after failing to win the Big 12 for the first time in his five seasons with the Sooners, then Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame in the rearview mirror for the LSU job while the Fighting Irish are still alive to make the College Football Playoff. When filthy rich, living somewhere in L.A. seems a bit more desirable than Norman, especially with the Trojans in the much more easily negotiable Pac-12 as opposed to the Sooners once they move with Texas to the SEC. Riley’s denial of the SEC factor rings hollow. The Sooners very easily can become very average once in the SEC. The OU job fundamentals are not better than those at Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Texas, or Texas A&M. See Nebraska in the Big 10, though one wouldn’t think the Sooners plunge to Cornhusker depth of despair.

Can UH take down Cincinnati Saturday? Of course. Will it? Probably not. The Coogs have beaten largely nobody this season, though winning 11 straight is impressive regardless. 12-0 Cincinnati has been clearly more impressive. While UC gets to play at home, weather won’t be a factor. Temperature will be in the mid-50s at kickoff.

Rockets are going streaking!

Props to the Rockets for winning four in a row after their humiliating 1-16 start. With the injury ravaged and lousy Orlando Magic at Toyota Center Friday night and still Zion Williamson-less New Orleans next on Sunday, the Rocket roll could reach six. But to be real, it’s not like they’re turning the corner toward becoming a good team. It’s not as if they’re approaching the corner. Three of their five wins are over sorry Oklahoma City which is on the ground floor of a rebuild like the Rockets. It may seem counterintuitive but it’s not a coincidence that the Rockets winning some games coincides with the absence of the single most important player on their roster going forward. Rookie Jalen Green being out with an injured hamstring has made the Rockets better in the short term. Of course the Rockets’ short term success is largely irrelevant, so as soon as Green is healthy he should resume getting big minutes to hopefully accelerate his development.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. So if Georgia beats Alabama AND Iowa beats Michigan AND Houston takes down Cincinnati AND Baylor topples Oklahoma State, any chance the Bears could vault all the way from number nine into the top four and the playoff? Doubtful. The three teams immediately ahead of the Sic Ems are non-conference champions who don’t play this week (Notre Dame, Ohio St., Ole Miss). Here’s to that level of chaos putting the selection committee on the spot.

2. In the last decade is there a bigger jerk athlete on as many fronts as Antonio Brown?

3. Best Christmas season food or drink treats most people have never heard of: Bronze-wassail Silver-stollen Gold-pfeffernusse

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11 Texans training camp observations from August 7th

Houston Texans insider dishes on why Derek Stingley Jr was the right pick

The Houston Texans had a “vanilla” day of light work. Here are 11observations from the workout.

1. It was a light day for the Texans. Some would say sluggish, I wouldn’t agree with that. Did it look like a day off was in order? Yes. Did anyone make mental mistakes because of their energy level? Not that I could see. With it being a lighter day, it might be worthwhile to focus on some of the depth on the roster.

2. Isaac Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dum) has had some moments in training camp. With rookie Derek Stingley having a light day, Yiadom played opposite Steven Nelson. Yiadom has had a few pass breakups and seems to be physical in coverage. He has a little speed to him, or he’s shown the ability to stick with wideouts. He is a top preseason game target to watch.

3. Phillip Dorset had a very nice back-of-the-end zone catch. It might have, likely even, been a sack for the defense in a live rep or team rep, but Davis Mills ripped the ball out as the whistle was starting to sound. Dorset with two feet in the back after juking a defender. He is squarely behind other wideouts having missed time but being a veteran should catch up quickly.

4. Wideout Connor Wedington had a few nice plays on Sunday. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but Davis Mills’ former teammate might squeeze his way into the conversation. There are opportunities for him with a few other wideouts banged up.

5. Rookie tight end Tegan Quitoriano bodied his way for a touchdown. The rookie hasn’t done much in camp, but his size is clearly an advantage. Game reps and more padded practice will be important for him this preseason.

6. Chris Moore is a veteran taking yet another swing at making this team. If the Texans played tomorrow, I would have him on the roster. Probably even starting at slot wideout. He had a very nice leaping grab today.

7. Versatility for a couple of backup offensive linemen may lead to them making the team. Well, it certainly won’t hurt their case. Justin McCray has played all three interior offensive line spots. The veteran could start if needed, but I have to imagine he is a key backup inside. Scott Quessenberry (yes related to former Texans lineman David and current fullback Paul) played guard on Sunday. He is a factor to be Justin Britt’s backup at center.

8. Charlie Heck was not a pick I was in love with when Bill O’Brien selected him a couple of seasons ago. Heck has grown a lot in his game and physically and is surely the backup tackle for this team. He can play left and right tackle.

9. Tae Davis plays linebacker and wears 19. It is the strangest thing to see a linebacker in that number. It has not been strange to see Davis make a play here or there in practice. The linebacker room is loaded but Davis is making the most of his chances.

10. Ka’imi Fairbairn HAMMERED a ball right down the uprights after Davis Mills had led the team into field goal range on a last-minute drill. Mills easily moved the team down the field without the normal group of linemen or weapons. Good finish to practice.

11. Jonathan Greenard did some pushups after he couldn’t replicate history. Greenard almost had his second interception of Davis Mills, but the ball fell incomplete. Greenard has been a force in training camp.

Bonus Quote of the Day: “I was a fat guy last year” said Pharaoh Brown as he talked about his leaner and quicker frame compared to last year.

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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