How Correa dilemma feels like Houston sports history repeating itself
Back in September of the 2009 NFL season, Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson was angling for a new contract. The team frachise tagged him instead of negotiating a long-term deal when they couldn't come to terms. Robinson held out all of training camp amid the dispute. Rick Smith, the then general manager, was called to task with Robinson's infamous "PAY ME RICK" stitched on the back of his cleats before the opening game against the Jets. They went on to lose that game 24-7, went 8-8 that season, and Robinson signed with the Falcons in that offseason.
Fast forward 12 years, and the Astros' Carlos Correa is in the same position, as is Astros general manager James Click. After turning down a reported six year/$120 million dollar deal, Correa also turned down a five year/$125 million dollar deal as well. He's supposedly seeking a big dollar, long-term deal such as the ones fellow shortstops Fernando Tatis Jr. (14 year/$340 million dollars) and Francisco Lindor (10 years/$341 million dollars) received recently. Like most athletes in a contract year, Correa is performing at a high level. He's hitting .296 with 14 homers, 40 RBI, and 51 runs scored. Along with his impressive batting stats, he's sporting a .984 fielding percentage and has been healthy all season.
Correa will be 27 in September. Signing him to a 10-year deal wouldn't be as bad as one would think. However, it makes better business sense to sign him to a shorter term deal considering his injury history. Correa and his team are looking for security and money. Anything eight years or more worth upwards of $25-30 million dollars a year would be ideal for them in my opinion. Click hasn't been a general manager for very long and is facing a tough decision. Owner Jim Crane may be looking at his payroll and decide against offering Correa the kind of deal he's looking for, especially when one thinks of the money he's paying Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve. On the flip side, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander are most likely both coming off the books after this season. If neither, or only one is brought back, that could open a salary spot for Correa.
The true tell will be what he's offered on the open market. Teams like the Yankees, who have a need at shortstop, will always be in position to outbid the Astros. There will be a couple other shortstops hitting the market as well who are just as good as Correa. So far, Correa has bet on himself. If you ask me, he's winning. If he keeps this up, he'll definitely get paid this offseason. Whether it's the Astros or another team is still in question.
Personally speaking, they should pay him. He's been the face of the team following the cheating scandal. His performance in the playoffs last season was remarkable. He's staying healthy, so far, and is performing at an All-Star level. Not often do you get a guy at his age, playing this good, at a key position. If you bring back Verlander at a cheaper salary, let Greinke walk, and offer Correa a competitive deal, the window could stay open a bit longer than most expect. At the rate he's going, Correa may be pricing himself out of Houston. If he stays healthy and keeps performing, Correa's own words will come back to haunt the Astros for not paying him: "What are they gonna say now?"
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