Major League Baseball is scheduled to kick off the 2021 regular season on Thursday, April 1. Oftentimes, the beginning of the season serves as a deadline for contract extensions; players, understandably, would prefer to focus on playing and playing alone once the games start counting for real.
Such is the case for New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, who is engaged in the most well-publicized extension talks, and for Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. Correa's chances of reaching an agreement seemed remote last week, when he categorized the Astros' initial offer (believed to be worth $120 million over six years) as "really low" and revealed the two sides hadn't talked since.
Evidently Correa's comments brought the Astros back to the negotiating table. On Tuesday, Astros general manager James Click told reporters that the two sides have "had some more conversations over the weekend so we're going to keep at it."
It's unclear how much the Astros have improved their offer by, but precedent suggests Houston's original offer was indeed laughable. Here's what we wrote last week:
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.
Correa and Lindor's extension talks are bound to have a sizable impact on this winter's free-agent class regardless of how they do (or don't) work out. As it stands, the shortstop market could be saturated with All-Star types, including that pair, Trevor Story, Javier Baez, and Corey Seager.