Extension Discussion sounds like it should be one of those Schoolhouse Rock ditties, like Conjunction Junction. A good friend of the blog, Mr. Bill, could no doubt rip off a good riff on that one. But the idea of at least two Astros wanting to sign extensions has come to the forefront in the last week or so.
Talking about extension agreements is not all that Correa and McCullers, who become free agents at the end of 2021, have in common. They are both tremendously talented baseball players at premium positions, shortstop and starting pitcher. They are both due to become free agents while still well within their 20’s. And they both have a checkered injury past that makes the pricing out of an extension a difficult risk-filled adventure.
The positive thing about discussing an extension is that there should be some money to play with for the Astros unless something happens unexpectedly. There is $57 MM coming off the books between Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, with only $74 MM committed in contracts for next season. Correa is getting $11.5 MM this season, and McCullers is receiving $6.5MM.
The reason it may be tough to come to an agreement before the season starts is the most basic reason….how do you figure out what they are worth in the future based on what they have done in the past?
- McCullers – Do you pay him based on his excellent bookend 3.22 ERAs in 2015 and 2016? Do you pay him based on never pitching more than 130 innings in a year? Do you take into account him missing (and being paid for missing) all of 2019 after Tommy John surgery? Do you pay him for the guts he showed in pitching through an ailing elbow before the TJ surgery? Do you pay him for a solid comeback from the TJ surgery in 2020 (3-3 / 3.93 ERA)?
- Correa – Do you pay him based on that Rookie of the Year season? Do you pay him based on the excellent 109 games he played in 2017 or the excellent 75 games he played in 2019? Do you pay him for the nothing he gave you in the other 53 games in 2017 and the other 87 games in 2019? Do you pay him based on his nothing special performances in 2018 and 2020? Do you pay him as an extremely talented shortstop at 26 years old? Do you pay him based on missing so much time with back problems and odd injuries like his broken rib from a massage? Do you pay Carlos based on an excellent performance in the 2020 playoffs and his claim that he “figured out” what he was doing wrong with his swing?
The over-riding bet is that neither of these guys gets an extension before the start of the season. Some folks may think McCullers might have a better chance considering he will not be getting as big of a contract as Correa. Others may think Correa might have a better chance considering he is not represented by Scott (can you say Jackie Bradley Jr.) Boras.
In the end, it is at least a nice thing to hear that these athletes would like to stay in Houston after what has happened lately to the other sport’s teams in H Town.