The Pallilog

Padres signing of Machado could impact Astros and Correa

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P.T. Barnum of circus fame is generally credited with saying "There's a sucker born every minute."

Behold the San Diego Padres. They "won" the Manny Machado sweepstakes with a 10 year $300 million dollar offer. For the second consecutive off season the small market small budget Padres sign the most ridiculous free agent deal. At least until we see what Bryce Harper winds up getting. Last year the Padres laughably overpaid a little better than average first baseman Eric Hosmer to the tune of eight years $144 million.

The Astros have to take notice of Machado's deal. No doubt Carlos Correa is taking notice. It's not a pressing crisis, but Correa becomes eligible for free agency after the 2021 season. Correa and Machado are very comparable players. Except Correa has never proven to be a serial culprit of lack of hustle.

Unless he signs a multi-year contract beforehand, Correa will hit the market just a few months older than Machado was when he did. The chief questions about Correa (hundreds of millions of dollar questions) are his recovery from last season's back problem, and his overall durability. If Correa's back is healthy and causes no further problems going forward and he resumes what had been a presumed path to superstardom, what Correa commands will be through Minute Maid Park's retractable roof. The Astros should hope to have to deal with the issue. It would mean Correa has produced hugely in the meantime.

Machado has been an excellent player who should be in the heart of his prime. But with all due respect to Justin Verlander and others who'd been grousing about how come Machado and Harper hadn't had their wishes fulfilled yet, 10 years guaranteed is stupid. Machado can opt out of the contract after five years. What if he turns out to be a guy who happened to have his best season just in time in free agency? What if his sense of professionalism doesn't improve and he's not a great teammate/role model for the Padres' trove of prospects? The Padres have no opt out, they'd be on the hook thru 2028.

If Correa fulfills his potential and is a 30 million dollar per year player come 2022, will the Astros pay the freight while paying Jose Altuve 29 million per through 2024? Alex Bregman can become a free agent after the 2022 season.

Tag, Clowney is it

The Texans have until March 5 to use the franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney. The only time the Texans have used the tag was on cornerback Dunta Robinson. That didn't work out very well. But using the tag on Clowney is an easy decision if they can't first reach a longer term contract agreement, which one would guess they will not. Clowney and his people likely seek money in range of what his 2014 Draft classmates Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack got. Before last season they signed the two biggest defensive player contracts ever. Donald got $87 million dollars guaranteed, Mack topped that with 90. The Texans should laugh and say now let's get serious about a deal. Clowney is a Pro Bowl-level player who has missed only three games over the last three seasons. Clowney also has yet to come remotely close to NFL Defensive Player of the Year status because he simply is not a great pass rusher, as evidenced by his zero 10 sack seasons to date. The franchise tag would pay Clowney 16 mil give or take in 2019, about a three million dollar raise.

Still at a loss

The stretch run toward the playoffs is underway in the NBA. The Rockets have all their essential players healthy for the first time since December. And promptly puked up a 19 point second half lead in a bad loss at the Lakers Thursday night. The Rockets sit in fifth place in the Western Conference, closer to the draft lottery than to third. Unless James Harden soon goes down injured it's highly unlikely they sink to lottery depths. Alas, they have zero chance of overtaking Golden State atop the West, and close to zero chance of reeling in second place Denver. Catching third place Oklahoma City is unlikely unless the Rockets can go 19-5 or better vs. their remaining schedule. At this point third would be great. It would mean the Rockets played good ball the rest of the season, and presuming Golden State finishes first the Rockets would avoid the Warriors before the Western Conference Finals should both teams make it that far. Well, should the Rockets make it that far. Not much doubt about the Warriors.

Whose house?

Little reason to think the University of Houston won't make it 26-1 for the season and a 33 game homecourt winning streak as it plays host to South Florida Saturday. The Cougars should be 29-1 when they play at Cincinnati in the regular season finale March 10.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Thank goodness the most boring sports week until baseball All Star Game week is out of the way. 2. Marv Albert makes many more mistakes than he used to, but remains the best voice to hear calling an NBA game. 3. Whiniest on court Rockets: Bronze-Chris Paul Silver-P.J. Tucker Gold-Eric Gordon

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TEXANS MAKE SURPRISING CUT

Texans to release prominent player on defense

Zach Cunningham is on his way out of Houston. Composite image by Jack Brame.

According to multiple reports, the Texans are waiving LB Zach Cunningham. Cunningham was benched last Sunday for disciplinary reasons, which reportedly stemmed from a missed COVID test. Cunningham was also benched for a quarter earlier in the season for breaking team rules.

According to Ian Rapoport, the Texans will have to eat his 12.8 million dollar cap hit next season.

Cunningham started in seven of the 10 games he’s played this season recording 67 tackles and a forced fumble. The Texans are at a point where there's hardly anyone left on the team that has any name recognition with what's left of the fan base. And now the Texans have another position that will have to be addressed this offseason.

Cunningham will likely command a lot of attention from other teams interested in his services.

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