PAY THE MAN!

The definitive list of reasons why Correa, Astros are better together than apart

The Astros need to re-sign Carlos Correa. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Why is everybody so convinced that Carlos Correa has played his last game in an Astros uniform? Is it because he's the best of the bunch of free agent shortstops and for the past year Correa's been speaking in the pluperfect past tense about his time with the Astros? Or is it because he's priced himself out of the Astros market by insisting on a really long-term contract?

To all that … not so fast. While it looks like Correa holds all the cards, the Astros do have some leverage in keeping him. To answer the Clash, should he stay or should he go, it's in both the Astros and Correa's best interest for him to stay in Houston.

Over his seven years in the big leagues, Correa has gained a reputation as a clutch-hitting warrior with a killer baseball mentality.

Among the teams reportedly pursuing Correa: the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Minnesota Twins. Collectively, those teams finished 119 games out of first place this year. Three of them finished in last place. The Tigers were mathematically saved from the cellar because they play in the same division as the bottom-feeding Twins.

If Correa signs with one of those teams, he'll be perceived as a money grubber, not a good look for the image-conscious shortstop.

If Correa bristled at the jeers he received around the league this year, imagine the chorus of "cheater" and "F-Correa" he'll hear if he signs with Detroit, where he'll be reunited with A.J. Hinch, manager of the scandalous 2017 Astros. Another thing, and it's not a small thing, I lived in Detroit for a year once. I had fun there and it started a career for me. I like Detroit, but it's currently a city of big-time sports losers.

Hockey's legendary Detroit Red Wings are in last place. Football's Detroit Lions are in last place with a spotless 0-8 record. Basketball's Detroit Pistons are in last place at 1-6. The Tigers were spared last place but were in the red at 77-85 this season.

You have no idea how cold Detroit can get in April and September. Good thing Correa wouldn't have to worry about playing in October.

Here's something else Correa should consider. Great players don't win World Series. Great teams do. While Correa is a perfect fit with the Astros, it's unlikely he'd turn the Orioles or Rangers into a winner.

Mike Trout is generally regarded as the greatest player in baseball over his 11 seasons. He can do it all, a five-tool guy if there ever was one. He's won three MVP Awards and finished in the Top 4 voting nine times. He is the highest-paid player in baseball history. Trout has played in a total of one post-season series. His Angels were swept 3-0 and Trout went 1-12 at the plate. Money can't buy him love, and definitely not a World Series ring.

I keep hearing that Correa is headed for a goldmine because the Mets signed Francisco Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million contract last year, so Correa should expect a similar deal. After all, Correa and Lindor are the same age and Correa currently is a better player than Lindor.

But Lindor's contract may be the best argument against a team breaking its bank for Correa. Lindor played 125 games for the Mets this season and hit a career-low .230 with only 20 homers after bashing 33, 38 and 32 dingers his previous three full seasons in Cleveland.

If the Mets could reverse the Earth's rotation (like Superman) and go back in time, put it this way, he ain't getting $341 million over 10.

Free agents who sign big-money, multiyear contracts rarely live up to the investment. See: Albert Pujols (10 years, $240 million), Yoenis Cespedes (4 years, $110 million), Carl Crawford (7 years, $142 million), Chris Davis (7 years, $161 million), Jacoby Ellsbury (7 years, $143 million), Prince Fielder (9 years, $214 million), just to name a few. That's what is called stupid money.

Astros owner Jim Crane isn't stupid. He will make a reasonable, competitive offer to Correa. Then it's up to Correa and the advice his agent gives him.

Correa is an extraordinarily gifted athlete who hits in the clutch and has a military-grade throwing arm. He is not, at least not yet, a Hall of Fame player. He has a career batting average of .277. Over his seven years with the Astros, he's made two All-Star teams. He has never driven in more than 100 runs. He has spent significant time on the injured list in three of his seven seasons.

Bottom line, and Astros owner Jim Crane understands bottom lines, Correa means more to the Astros than plate appearances and fielding statistics. He is a direct link to the Astros amazing, consistent success over the past five years. Fans love Correa, pure and simple. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Correa, his actual full name according to Spanish naming customs is Carlos Javier Correa Oppenheimer. After his next contract, he may need to see an Oppenheimer financial advisor.

To lose Correa would be a public relations blow to the Astros. But baseball is a cut-throat business. And truth is, the Astros probably could stand to say goodbye to Correa and still say hello to the post-season in 2022.

In recent years, the Astros lost Gerrit Cole, George Springer and, for all intents and purposes, Justin Verlander … three players who made significant contributions to the Astros. How did the Astros deal with their loss? Five consecutive ALCS appearances, three American League pennants and one World Series title.

Owner Crane knows he'll have to dig deep in his pockets and swallow a long-term deal to keep Correa in the home team clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. Crane also knows he'll be a hero if he does. With the Texans and Rockets in the dumpster, Crane and the Astros have turned Houston in a baseball town. Signing Correa will keep it that way.

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