Earlier this week, the Houston Astros agreed to terms with right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. on a long-term extension that will prevent him from hitting the open market this winter. With just six days to go until Opening Day, it doesn't appear a similar arrangement will be reached with shortstop Carlos Correa.
Correa addressed his impending free agency during his press availability on Thursday, expressing his disappointment with a recent extension offer believed to be worth $120 million over six years. "I thought [the offer] was really low," he said, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26. "If that's how they feel about me, I guess I'll go out and play and try to win another championship for the city of Houston and then explore free agency."
Correa also confirmed that he will not move off an April 1 negotiating deadline, and that the two sides haven't had further dialogue about an extension since the offer.
It's easy to understand why Correa would scoff at Houston's offer. He's about to enter his age-26 season, and so far he's been a career .276/.353/.480 hitter with a 126 OPS+ and 107 home runs. Factor in his defense at shortstop, and Correa has accumulated 26 Wins Above Replacement since the start of the 2015 season, giving him the 11th most among position players in that time, as well as more than the likes of Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and past and present teammates George Springer and Alex Bregman.
Those four players make for interesting reference points in relation to Correa, as each has signed a long-term contract in recent years. Harper and Rendon both netted contracts worth at least twice what the Astros offered Correa, while Springer just signed a six-year deal worth $150 million this past winter. Bregman is the only individual whose deal came in underneath the Correa line, but his five-year pact (worth $100 million) was signed before he had so much as three years of big-league service time.
There are plenty of nits to pick with Correa's game -- he's battled injuries during his career; he's posted an OPS+ in the 90s in two of the past three seasons; and so on -- but it's a reasonable stance on his and his agent's end to expect that a better offer awaits them in free agency. Maybe it ends up coming from the Astros, too; it just doesn't seem likely to arrive between now and Opening Day.