Carlos Correa’s name came up in trade speculation on Tuesday, leading the shortstop to take time out of his honeymoon to call Jeff Luhnow, the Astros general manager told reporters (including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart). Luhnow told the former Rookie Of The Year to not worry about the reports, and he further dismissed the idea of any major trades on Wednesday, telling media members that he would be “surprised if we moved any of our core players.” Some type of creative salary management seems inevitable, however, if the Astros are to make roster upgrades while avoiding at least the top level ($248MM+) of luxury tax punishment level. Houston already has a projected tax number of just over $231MM, as per Roster Resource, so even getting under the secondary punishment threshold of $228MM will take work. Since this would mark Houston’s first time over the luxury tax barrier, they would at least face only a first-timer charge, though topping the $248MM mark would also come with a ten-slot drop in their 2021 draft order.
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- The Mets were one team that at least checked in about Correa, SNY.tv’s Andy Martino tweets, though MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo described these conversations as “more fantasy baseball” than a truly serious discussion. New York would make an intriguing suitor for Correa since the Mets have a former top-tier prospect of their own at shortstop in Amed Rosario, and it’s fair to wonder whether Rosario would have been a logical trade chip to head Houston’s way in any Correa deal.
- Luhnow also told reporters (including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle) that he had been receiving “a number of inquiries” about Abraham Toro. MLB Pipeline ranks Toro as the Astros’ fifth-best prospect, after the 22-year-old hit .273/.365/.461 with 48 homers over 1544 career minor league PA. This led to Toro making his Major League debut last season, a 25-game/89-PA stint highlighted by his ninth-inning, two-run homer that provided the only offense Justin Verlander needed in his September 1st no-hitter against the Blue Jays. Toro has mostly played third base, though he has some experience at first and second base as well, making him even more attractive to interested teams. This multi-position ability could position Toro as Yuli Gurriel’s heir apparent since Gurriel is a free agent after 2020, or the Astros’ payroll crunch could potentially get them to consider including Toro along with a hefty contract to clear some space on the books.
- The Astros have asked the Dodgers about catcher Austin Barnes, Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times reports (via Twitter), as Houston likes Barnes’ pitch-framing ability. It wasn’t long ago that Barnes seemed to be in line to be the Dodgers’ catcher of the future, though after hitting only .204/.311/.316 over 480 plate appearances in 2018-19, Barnes has firmly fallen behind Will Smith on the depth chart. Plus, Los Angeles has Keibert Ruiz on the way up as another blue chip catching prospect, making Barnes all the more potentially expendable. StatCorner and Baseball Prospectus do indeed give Barnes high grades for his framing, with BP also grading his blocking ability as generally above average. Barnes is signed for $1.1MM in 2020 and is arbitration-controlled through 2022, though he isn’t a youngster, as he turns 30 at the end of December.