Astros shortstop Carlos Correa projects as one of the top free agents on next year’s market, though both he and the team have made clear that they hope to hammer out an extension before he reaches the market. Correa told reporters today that those talks have yet to begin, noting that the finger injury to Framber Valdez and the front office’s subsequent negotiations with free agents may have delayed the beginning of talks (Twitter link, with video, via Mark Berman of FOX 26). Correa was understanding of that and remains motivated to talk contract, though as is often the case with extension candidates, he placed a firm Opening Day deadline on any talks for a new deal. Houston GM James Click said in late February that the Astros “want to have some conversations” with Correa’s camp to see if the two sides can align on a deal to keep him long term.
Astros fans may also be interested to hear skipper Dusty Baker talk of Correa as a potential leadoff candidate in 2021. Correa hit leadoff today and told reporters he’s excited for the possibility of taking on that challenge (video link via Berman). Leadoff duties have traditionally been George Springer’s department in Houston, of course, but his departure creates a vacancy atop the lineup.
More from the division…
- Ty France may not have a set position with the Mariners, but the team plans to get him 500-plus plate appearances in 2020, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. As Divish notes, Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto tried to pry France away from the Padres on multiple occasions before successfully landing him as part of the Austin Nola trade last summer. Manager Scott Servais spoke glowingly of France’s work so far this spring, and Divish suggests that France could get semi-regular work at designated hitter while also seeing occasional starts at third base, second base and first base to keep the Mariners’ infielders fresh. France is 8-for-13 with a pair of doubles, three homers, a walk and no strikeouts this spring. He batted .305/.368/.468 in 155 big league plate appearances last year and is a career .372/.454/.713 hitter in 458 Triple-A plate appearances (albeit in a supercharged Pacific Coast League offensive environment).
- The Athletics will continue to build up southpaw Cole Irvin as a starting pitcher in camp, writes Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland acquired the lefty from the Phillies in exchange for cash over the winter, and although the bulk of his work in the Majors has come out of the ’pen, the A’s plan to continue building him up to serve as a possible depth option behind their current rotation. Only three of Irvin’s 19 Major League appearances with the Phils were starts, but 41 of his 43 career appearances in Triple-A came out of the rotation. The 27-year-old carries a 3.07 ERA at that level, and while his 18.8 percent strikeout rate is a good ways shy of average, his 4.7 percent walk rate is excellent.