9:19pm: The Astros have made a “strong” offer to McCullers, and they’re “deep” in talks with him, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle writes.
5:37pm: Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., who’s in the last year of his contract, tweeted last month that he hadn’t heard from the Astros about an extension, but that has changed. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Astros have made a long-term offer to the Boras Corporation client. Details of the proposal are unknown, and Heyman adds that it’s unclear whether the two sides will get a deal done.
A career-long Astro, McCullers made his major league debut with the club in 2015 and has since produced quality results. The 27-year-old owns a 3.70 ERA/3.61 SIERA with above-average strikeout and walk percentages of 26.4 and 9.3, respectively. The problem, if there is one, is that McCullers hasn’t been particularly durable in the bigs. He topped out at 128 1/3 innings in 2018 and has accrued just 508 2/3 frames during his career.
McCullers underwent Tommy John surgery before 2019, causing him to miss all of that season, but he did get through last year unscathed. He rebounded from the procedure to finish second among Astros in starts (11) and third in innings (55), recording a 3.93 ERA/3.95 SIERA and a sterling 59.7 percent groundball rate along the way.
Despite the health issues that have dogged him in the majors, McCullers should do well on his next contract. His track record and age should make him one of the most appealing starters on the open market, but the Astros may prevent him from getting there. Of course, the Astros also have a few other high-profile free agents-to-be – including righties Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander and shortstop Carlos Correa – so general manager James Click & Co. have a lot of work to do over the next several months.