The team might have to be big spenders to keep players around
Who gets the next big payday for Astros?
The Astros locked up Alex Bregman earlier this week before arbitration even hit for him while also whipping up a new deal for relief expert Ryan Pressly. With those two deals done we turn our eyes to the players would could next be getting a new contract and what those extensions could look like.
The Cy Young runner-up from 2018 enters the final year of his seven year, $180 million contract in 2019. The thought around him has long been he has his eyes set on the bust in Cooperstown and he needs just a few more years of high-level baseball before he is a lock. This could be a deal done before or during the upcoming season.
While he seems to enjoy the organization in Houston Verlander likely is looking for two qualities in his next deal: winning and a final payday. The Astros could easily offer both of those to him. The length of the deal is the part which could get dicey. Not many pitchers end up going past their late 30's but let's assume Verlander remains on his renewed pace and he could stay until he's 40.
Possible Deal: 3 years, $90 million with a mutual option for the fourth year
This will get expensive. Cole is young, has just unlocked his true potential, and has Scott Boras for an agent. The first season as a member of the Astros was fantastic and it ended with the highest-ever awarded salary arbitration with the number coming in at $13.5 million. There is almost no way Cole wouldn't test the free agency waters.
Think big on this deal, like the biggest ever for a pitcher. If Cole replicates his 2018, he will break records. David Price and Max Scherzer both signed seven-year deals at the age of 30. Cole will be 29. The average annual value for pitchers set by Zack Greinke of $34.4 million will also be a target. This will be the hardest negotiation of Jeff Luhnow's career and with Cole likely to hit free agency Houston won't be the only team chasing the star pitcher.
Possible Deal: 7 years, $245 million with a vesting option for an eighth year
We are a ways off from Correa's free agency, he isn't scheduled to hit the open market until 2022. He will play this year for $5 million and have two more years of arbitration. His huge deal isn't right around the corner, there won't be any Alex Bregman or Jose Altuve deals for Correa anytime soon. A deal similar to George Springer's deal is certainly possible.
Springer signed a two-year contract to buyout all but one arbitration year. Durability wasn't a concern with Springer, he missed just 22 games over the two seasons before his big raise. Correa has missed 105 games the past two years. A healthy 2019 would go a long way towards Correa getting big money.
Possible Deal: 3 years, $52.5 million (buying out one year of free agency)