The Astros have renewed the contract of star shortstop Carlos Correa at $1MM, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). That comes in just shy of the record for a pre-arbitration player, set by Kris Bryant last offseason when the Cubs agreed to a $1.05MM salary. Correa’s $1MM mark ties the previous record holder, Mike Trout, who earned $1MM in 2014 as a pre-arb player before agreeing to his $144MM contract extension the following offseason.
It’s worth noting, though, that the Astros renewed Correa’s contract. That indicates that, in spite of the near-record-setting nature of Correa’s pre-arbitration salary, the two sides did not see eye to eye on his 2018 earnings. Teams can negotiate with their pre-arb players, and the two sides will often agree to terms on a salary — typically within the vicinity of the league minimum for most players but sometimes a few hundred thousand or so greater for higher-profile players that have not yet reached salary arbitration.
However, if the two sides cannot agree to a negotiated salary, then the team can renew the player’s contract at any amount at or above the league minimum. In this instance, the fact that Correa’s contract was renewed could mean that he and his representatives at the Legacy Agency were hoping to set a new record and simply elected to let the team renew the contract.
Certainly, though, it’s nothing new for this player and team. A renewal also occurred in each of the past two seasons. Most notably, the ’Stros gave Correa only the league-minimum salary for the 2017 campaign. Of course, there’s still no real indication whether the failure to agree could hint at underlying discord that might impact future contractual matters.
The deal isn’t a straight MLB contract, it’s also worth noting, per a tweet from Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Houston elected instead to make it a split deal, providing a $267,500 rate of pay in the exceedingly unlikely event that Correa is optioned down. Clearly, as with Correa’s own decision not to agree to the offered amount, the sides have elected to stand on their rights — even if there’s no reasonably anticipated practical difference.