A report has come out that the Houston Astros are considering trading star shortstop Carlos Correa. How likely is it that this could actually happen?
Whenever an MLB team builds a sustainable winner for several years, the time inevitably comes when we can start to see the end of that run, at least with that core group of players. Are we starting to see the end of that run with the Houston Astros?
It might seem premature to ask such a question for a team that is coming off a 107-win season and two pennants, plus a World Series title, in the last three years. Yet it might be a fair question after a report from Ken Rosenthal came out on Tuesday that the Astros are considering dealing their star shortstop, Carlos Correa.
Like many teams, it sounds like the Astros want to cut payroll, and they may determine that moving the 25-year-old shortstop would help to achieve that. Correa is estimated to make $7.4 million through the arbitration process this winter. With massive contracts still on the books for Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, along with the team’s interest in locking up George Springer long-term, Correa may have to be the “odd man out” according to the report.
The Astros may also decide that Correa could be an asset that would bring them some much-needed starting pitching, even more of a pressing concern now that Gerrit Cole is officially gone. However, the return that Houston would get for Correa has likely diminished after back-to-back years in which Correa missed significant time due to injury. After posting a 16.4 WAR between 2015 and 2017, the former No. 1 overall pick is at just a combined 4.7 over the past two years. However, after a terrible 2018, he did hit much better in 2019, raising his OPS from .728 to .926.
All this aside, this seems like a bad time to be trying to trade a star shortstop, as most contending teams are set at the position. Perhaps the Atlanta Braves would be interested if they feel that they want to upgrade over Dansby Swanson, and the Astros could probably get Max Fried and/or another quality starting pitcher. The New York Mets may be interested as well, though Amed Rosario had a nice 2019. The Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers are two teams that could use a shortstop for 2020, especially if the later decides that Orlando Arcia isn’t working out, but it’s hard to see either club wanting to commit to Correa long-term.
As far as the Astros’ possible demise, reports of it may be premature, but given that they likely will lose some draft picks as a result of their spying scandal, it’s going to make it that much harder for the farm system to continue to produce talent in the coming years. Plus, Verlander and Greinke, whom they will rely heavily on in 2020, aren’t exactly going to be around forever.
At first, trading Correa might sound crazy, and Rosenthal says “deal appears close” for now. Yet the Astros have considered it, so perhaps they see that as one of several difficult decisions they will have to make over the next couple of seasons as they decide how long their window to contend will remain open.