CORREA WATCH

Compromise is critical in this best-case scenario for Carlos Correa, Astros

Give a little to get a little. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

With the Texas Rangers’ signing elite shortstops Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, the Tigers landing Javy Baez and the Yankees showing interest in Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the threat level of the Astros saying goodbye to Carlos Correa has been lowered from “100 percent lost cause” to “maybe just maybe.”

A baseball executive who doesn’t want to be identified told me, “Seems like everybody else is realizing that Correa is a career .270 hitter.” And even in 2021, Correa’s free agent season when he put it all together, he hit only .279. Good, not great.

Still, right now, Correa is one of the best defensive shortstops ever and his throwing arms should be registered with the National Rifle Association.

Unfortunately there is no stat for “fiery team leader who tells critics of his team to go f-themselves.” Both qualities that endear him to Astros fans.

Correa reportedly is asking for a record-breaking long-term deal and so far, so far as we know anyway, there’s been no takers.

Here’s how it can turn out for the best for everybody. For Correa. For the Astros.

The goal of any negotiation is for both sides to walk away with their heads held high thinking they won. The Astros would love to keep Correa, but without breaking their policy of no long-term deals beyond five years. It's a smart, responsible policy. How many 10-year deals don't have fans thinking in years eight, nine and 10, how can we unload this guy?

Correa reportedly wants to become the highest-paid infielder ever with a long-term deal in the range of $350 million over the next decade.

With that much distance between the two sides, how can the Astros even dream of keeping Correa? Here’s how. Both sides must be willing to negotiate and expect to give a little.

Last year, the New York Mets signed shortstop Francisco Lindor for $341 million over 10 years, including $43.3 million for the 2021 season, the highest one-year salary in MLB history at the time. But remember, it’s pretty likely that the Mets already regret their Lindor deal, as the shortstop had a miserable 2021 season and even managed to alienate Mets fans by flashing thumbs down signs at them.

What if the Astros offered Correa a seven-year deal worth $241.5 million? That averages $34.5 million per year, more than Lindor makes annually. And the Astros write the contract so it includes $45 million for 2022. That’s more than Lindor made this year. Bam! Correa is the highest-paid infielder ever.

Correa gets some of what he wants.

The Astros go beyond their policy of not offering anything longer than a five-year contract, and they’ll have to rob their company piggy bank for more than they’d like to spend. But they keep their star shortstop and fuel their dynasty for years to come.

The Astros get some of what they want.

Done deal.

That’s a good negotiation, a great opportunity for Correa and an acceptable contract for the Astros. Correa stays in Houston where he’s a beloved fan favorite, and plays with his buddies in a friendly ballpark where he doesn’t hear cries of “cheater.” And he’ll be 34 when he’s a free agent again, up for another massive contract, maybe as a slugging third baseman this time. If he signs for more years with a less potent team, he’ll be tagged a money grubber and forfeit his status as a baseball warrior, an image that Correa embraces.

If owner Jim Crane can convince Correa to sign for crazy money for fewer years, it will show Houston fans that the Astros are willing to do whatever it takes to win. That’s a good look for the Astros and a booster shot for ticket sales and Dollar Dogs on Tuesday nights.

Now all the Astros and Correa have to do, in the immortal words of chief negotiator Larry the Cable, is just git’er done.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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