The Lockout Ends: Waiting for the Astros first domino to fall

A few weeks ago, we ran one of our Q/A type posts….

If you thumb down the comments a bit, I answered my own questions. For #3 – when would I bet the lockout would end – I picked March 11 – so I just missed it, though somewhere in the world, it was probably already March 11 when this whole mess was settled. Yes, my arm is getting sore from patting myself on the back.

But now that the lockout is behind baseball, what happens next? In the case of the Astros, it would at least seem that the first domino, the solution to their shortstop situation, needs to fall before a lot else can happen. Sure, they might pick up a reliever or make some small trade, but the finances of the shortstop re-sign of Carlos Correa or a decision on his replacement will drive whatever else happens in this off-season.

Depending on whether they re-sign Correa (~$35+MM per year) or sign a Trevor Story ($20+MM/yr) or trade for someone further down the food chain like Niko Goodrum ($3 to 4 MM) or just let Jeremy Pena (league minimum) see what he can do, this decision will domino down on to the other choices, yet to happen (or not).

Signing a Correa or a Story would seem to knock the Astros out of making a move like a friend of the blog, Steven suggested – chasing someone like the sometimes injured, sometimes brilliant Carlos Rodon. Going for a cheaper option allows them to explore that type of possibility.

It could also affect what type of reliever (if any) they chase before the start of the season. With Pena manning short, they certainly could talk to a rebuilding kind of organization and take on a higher cost reliever (please make it a lefty) if some type of trade can be worked out.

The gut feeling here is that they are not likely to shore up the outfield, especially with how they approached the George Springer centerfield spot last off-season. Yes, Jake Meyers is probably out the first couple months of the season after shoulder surgery, but remember he did not even show up until the last couple of months of last season. They will cover the outfield with Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker, and Chas McCormick backed up by a fourth outfielder (Jose Siri?), a once a week Yordan Alvarez and an as-needed Aledmys Diaz.  

But, if they did want to chase another outfielder, someone who would stick around when Brantley and Diaz are likely gone after this season, they again would wait to know how that first domino would fall before making a move.

In an interview yesterday, the Astros are likely checking in with Correa early, as Jim Crane alluded to. They may even give him a “last, best offer” and a deadline. But it is very likely they will have to move on and expect that to be made clear quickly. They will either stand pat with Pena or make a quick move to pick up a veteran. If they make a Rodon type move at that point, it means they will not be spending much moolah at shortstop.

This will all be a mad dash to the start of the season, but that dash begins with a single step or a single domino falling.

 

63 comments on “The Lockout Ends: Waiting for the Astros first domino to fall

  1. Don’t get me wrong, I want Rodon. I’m a realist though, I doubt the Astros are even talking to his agent.

    I also don’t see any significant trades. I think if the Astros do anything, it will be to move Odorizzi, and there probably won’t be a return. They may not do anything.

    Correa appears very ready to move on, with rumors swirling around the Cubs right now. It’s disappointing losing such a quality player, but I cant see paying him 35 mil AAV much less into his late 30s, and I think the Astros don’t either.

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    • I’ll add I think if any significant moves are made, though I would advise against it, I think there is a good chance Trevor Story does end up at SS for the Astros on a 5 year deal.

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      • You know Steven, in my head, I’ve been a bit hesitant about Story because of his home / road splits and coming off of a bit of a down 2021. But a couple things that make me OK with it ….
        1) Even in a down year like 2021, that season would have been a good to very good offensive season 80% of the seasons BC (Before Correa) for an Astro SS
        2) The Rockies, even with their high altitude advantage were a mediocre offense in 2021. They were barely above the major league average in runs/game, on base percentage, and OPS. I can see Story having a bit of a Renaissance surrounded by the type of lineup he would find here in Houston.

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      • I think the goal is Story or Correa, but Correa only if he does not find his 10 year deal somewhere else. Assuming Carlos is gone, Story is an excellent fit for a team planning on being around at the end of October. He’s sturdy. He’ll hit for power. He’s excellent defensively. He fills out a pretty good infield.

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  2. * The change to catcher for JC Correa is an interesting one.
    With Robo umps in AAA, MLB is moving fast to it’s implementation as part of the major league game. It is going to happen.
    Robo umps make pitch framing a part of the past. That’s it. When calling pitches by computerization, there will be no pitch framing and there will be better pitch reception by catchers because they will be able to focus on catching the ball and doing what they are supposed to do after setting up to catch the ball.
    Catchers will no longer have to focus on how good they look catching the ball and they will no longer have to bother with the pitches being called wrongly based on what they did.
    They will forget about framing and concentrate on blocking, catching the ball, throwing and fielding.
    In short, defense for a catcher will be easier.
    Which means that offense by a catcher will move more toward the front and center. And that is where the 6′ 220 lb. JC Correa enters the picture. He wasn’t necessarily built to be a SS. But he adds the agility of an infielder to his build behind the plate and the potential in his bat.
    And that will be the makeup of the catchers of the future.

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    • Spot on in your assessment 1OP! And it’ll be a moot point for players to argue balls and strikes with an automated K zone. Kind of like arguing with a brick wall. I’ll wait for the first player getting thrown out of a game for arguing with “Roboump”.

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      • Robo-umps are cool with me as long as they agree to set up a heavily-padded, rubber ‘Joe West’ image ten feet or so behind the plate which disgruntled batters can smack around with their bats a couple of times before they head back to the dugout. Imagine how the crowd would cheer!

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    • That’s both disappointing and proof teams were working on deals during the lockout. Especially with the CBT raising, I can’t believe he would have signed there unless other teams were not wanting to go beyond 1 year. The Giants did win the 2021 NL West, but Buster Posey retired, Gausman is going to Canada, and the team isn’t looking improved in any way I can see.

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    • I do have to say, Becky that between Luhnow and Click there is rarely any news until there is real news. When they picked up all those relievers at the trade deadline last year (Graveman, Maton Garcia, Montero) I really don’t remember hearing any news ahead of time about any of those trades.
      They have to be doing their due diligence on all options at his point. We don’t know what their thinking is. If they don’t see a path to get Correa do they immediately pivot to Story? Do they think that Correa is the only one worth spending big time and not chase Story?
      Like I commented above, after thinking about it some more – I’m much more in to Story than I had been. But I do have trust in this front office. They steered us to great results last season even with losing Springer and having big bucks tied up in Verlander. They have made good decisions overall, so let’s see which way they go.

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      • Story vs Correa career numbers are very similar. Correa with more walks and fewer Ks, Story with more power. Story at $20M vs Carlos at $35M seems to be a bargain so long as you are comfortable that Story can still produce reasonable numbers offensively without the friendly confines of Coors. Plus Story is a good SS, so there’s always that even if the offensive production drops somewhat. I’d be surprised if they are not in on Story unless they are convinced he’s a .210 hitter without Coors Field in his life.

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  3. So you’ve worked your butt off on our farm as De Goti, Abreu and McCormick and the team goes out in offseason and gets Robel, Cishek and Souza Winter ’21. They all have more experience but it doesn’t demoralize the guys you’ve told you have hopes with. That’s the Goodrum signing after I’m sure we inquired about that Kiner-Fella in Arlington. For some reason, Hinojosa who had a solid AAA season in line with Brignac Duffy and Mayfield of the past, moved on why? His name is Pena. The discussion of Story is folly but y’all go on… do your bit. Nico offers good pop, and speed on bases. Smart player. Marwin-esque move shored up, which kind of stinks for Taylor Jones and maybe Aledmys Diaz reps. And then how do you think newly minted 40-man, Joe Perez feels? Another year in the minors, which defensively I don’t see him ever being an Astro by the way.

    The natural turn then, how do we spend the money that Correa frees up? If we’re being thrifty by just plugging holes, it means we may be looking for a dagger-type of signing. I’d much rather trade for Bassitt or Montas, go for a topline because everyone knows pitching wins championships.

    A friend named Mike Holloran who played back in the day recently made this list and it looks quite bountiful:

    “Have you all thought about the potential 2023 starters?
    1. Verlander (player option)
    2. McCullers (under contract till 27)
    3. Garcia (under contract till 27)
    4. Valdez (under contract till 26)
    5. Urquidy (under contract till 26)
    6. Javier (under contract till 26)
    7. Whitley (promotable in 22) [pitching off mound, D2D ETA competitive]
    8. Brown (promotable in 22) [Super 2 candidate if rule not chgd]
    9. Ivey (promotable in 22) [thoratic outlet syndrome; sprained UCL ’21]
    10. Solomon (promotable in 22)
    11. Bermudez (promotable in 22)
    12. Dubin (promotable in 22) [plus plus slider, relief candidate]

    Our cup runneth over.”

    [9-12 are probably not pure starters.]

    Indeed, and JP France had a terrific AAA season..
    Santos will be a 20 y.o. phenom
    Watch out Spencer Arighetti, Robaina & Melendez ahead of schedule
    Endersby first taste of AA was a success
    Tamarez is a strikeout artist
    McDermott & Ty Brown will be 24 (pedigree)
    Rivera Hansen Solis Macuare (all fought injury) still in the discussion

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    • Yes, GoStros – I think the Goodrum signing means no Story along with no Correa. I see them sharing SS between Goodrum and Diaz until Pena is deemed ready.
      By the way Bassitt just got traded to the Mets.

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    • I alway have to nit pick, but don’t give up on Perez just yet. If he continues to hit, he can play first. Now if he does, the 3-6-3 double play will never happen, and Bagwell a few seasons with less arm.

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  4. NOBODY wants Memphis in their bracket. They are playing the best basketball in the country!
    Final Score: Houston Cougars 71 and Memphis State 53.

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  5. If Memphis gets past Boise St they get Gonzaga in the second round. It could be interesting.
    Coogs played great down the stretch to beat Memphis who had their number the first two times they met.

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  6. Mark Berman says the Astros are in discussions with Correa’s reps.
    Nelson Cruz is the Nationals new DH.
    Josh Donaldson is the Yanks new 3B and Kiner Falefa is their new SS
    Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela are now members of the Twins.
    Yanks are over the luxury tax thingy, along with the Mets.

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    • 1OP, after you went to bed, Heyman reported that Crane is now involved in the Correa discussion. And Rosenthal suggested that Correa could sign a record 1 year deal with the Astros. And of course this could all mean nothing. I’d like to get two or three more years out of him.

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      • Given the circumstances of the lockout it would make sense. It would be good for the Astros too in that they have that cap space now without committing long term. I just know its not what Correa wanted. You could see it in his body language all year, in every at bat all year, how focused he was on having this career year. He has always been vocal, but it seemed amplified this year. I think he played in a way that he expected this one season to have a payout that would change him and his family’s life forever. Then 89 days of negotiating power was taken from him.

        The question is if he is confident he can repeat it. If he is, why not take a 1 yr, 38 million dollar deal (or whatever insane number is being thrown around)? Or is he more scared that 17-18-19 are the realities and him playing 150 games is the outlier?

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  7. If Goodrum is meant to be an answer we are in trouble. Lifetime terrible hitter, and while people may feel he is a plus defender not very many metrics agree with that.

    I don’t even see a need for Goodrum when you have Diaz other than Goodrum has played some CF and RF (very poorly though). This is a genuine headscratcher for me, unless the Astros plan on putting Diaz at SS and Pena at AAA. But then again, they gave him a practically minimum salary contract, so maybe it is just a depth move.

    Either the Astros are looking at plan D at this point or even having Goodrum for Plan C (moving Bregman over at putting Diaz at SS full time). Either of these would be fine by me, I don’t have as rosy vision of Pena as others do, but I would be willing to give him his shot if I was at the helm before I gave Correa 35 mil AAV. My guess is though – Jeremy Pena is nothing more than Niko Goodrum, a better than average glove that has a little pop in his bat when he gets around on one but will hit .240 with a .300 OBP and spend more days being a hole in the lineup than a plus in the lineup. Heck, Diaz may not be any better, except he has even more pop but probably not quite the same defender as the other two.

    I still think there is a good chance we are going to see either Correa or Story, with Story the more likely one.

    And yea GoStros1 – how fortunate are we that Valdez, Garcia, Urquidy and Javier all appeared together. We would be in shambles without the incredible work of our international scout teams and agents that got these guys signed – and Luhnow’s commitment to that market. They are the difference between being a 80 win team and a world series team.

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  8. Do you remember when you were in high school? (Males only example). And there was the Prom coming up in two weeks. And there was this beautiful girl that was way out of your league. And it got closer and closer to the day and she still didn’t have a date. And with two days to go, you started wondering why no one had asked her yet. And then started to wonder what was wrong with her. Her name was “Carlito Correa.”

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  9. Looks like the Yankees are out of the Correa sweepstakes and the latest is Story to the Twins. That only leaves the Dodgers, Tigers, Astros, and maybe a mystery team. The Cubs have signed Simmons but the door is still cracked for CC. I’m beginning to think he’ll sit out or take a lot less from Houston. I can’t see us giving him 10 at 300.

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  10. Perhaps the thought process with Goodrum is that he will replace Diaz instead of Correa? If they re-sign Correa – they might then trade Diaz. Diaz has a good bat but he misses more time than almost anyone on the team.

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    • I called their front office and told them my advice was worth more than Niko Goodrum.

      I knew something was afoot though when I realized no one took down my address to send the 1.2 million too.

      I think for them Correa is plan A, but they want him to take less than 10 years 350 million. Plan B is probably Story but plan A is playing out so long that plan B is going to be in jeopardy. Plan C is Pena with Plan D being a Bregman shift. Goodrum should be plan Plan Z, like 25 others failed. Just me guessing because lets be honest, this team has always worked in the shadows, you had no idea they were in on Verlander until they are announcing a Verlander deal. Outside of apparently their servers at work they are pretty leak proof.

      It’s either that or since Passan works for ESPN he doesn’t realize there is a baseball team in Houston.

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  11. Whoa, guess no more Freeman in Atlanta. Betting money is Freeman ends up in LA. Oakland just lost their best player, so we can at least be happy about that.

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    • Oh man that haul that Oakland got, those are prospects. A good hitting 24 year old catcher that we will see sooner than later and 2 power arms are the highlight. Cusick is serious business, it might be 2-3 years down the road but that guy is going to be good. I don’t care how small sample it is or what level if you strike out 34 professional hitters in just 16 innings, that is bringing it. That is averaging 2 a inning, with 2 innings of striking out the side. Oof.

      Surreal that Freddie Freeman will be playing in another uniform this year.

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      • It’s a bit bizarre – I’m listening to sportstalk radio from Charlotte and they’re discussing DeShaun Watson being acquired for some sort of package that includes 3 first round picks and 2 defensive starters. Meanwhile, the Braves decided to part with what look like four quality players/prospects in order to get a first baseman who is four years younger and less expensive than Freeman. I don’t see the value in either move. Maybe Tom Brady coming out of retirement has everyone acting crazy.

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  12. Olson wasn’t just their best player.
    His departure leaves the A’s without their AS fielder at 1B and he was their premier LH bat against an Astros pitching staff that is predominantly RH.
    The A’s were already weak defensively on the right side of their infield with Kemp at 2B and now they don’t have Olson playing at 1B. Their SS is Elvis Andrus and they are probably going to trade one of the best fielding third basemen in baseball soon, too.

    .

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  13. Question marks Hanging over Us:

    McCullers – not healing well; not ready for who knows how long
    Meyers -healing, but definitely not ready for opening day
    Verlander – who knows what we have there at this point?
    Shortstop position – completely up for grabs
    Centerfield position – completely up for grabs
    Brantley and Gurriel – studs near end-of-carreer – what’s left in their tanks?

    At least we are not the A’s.

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    • Well, all I know is that Yuli looks to be in excellent condition, old timer or otherwise. And I’m a bit slow here I’m sure, but MLB has the Astros at number 8 in their initial rankings of the year.

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  14. When you read about this flexor business, mention of Tommy John surgery comes up too frequently. When Dusty Baker says “hopefully” when asked if McCullers will pitch at any point this season, that’s a legitimate concern.

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  15. McCullars won’t be ready for opening day and neither will Verlander.
    Wow….that’s not exactly what I wanted to hear. And Dan I saw that the Arlington little league signed Jake. However he’s probably going to have the same position he had with the Astros….a late inning defensive base stealer if that. It’s time to do something or get off the pot with Correa time is wasting and my patience is wearing mighty thin with his “wants”.

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