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The reigning American League champions will deploy their usual strategy of tight payroll management and canny roster maneuvering as they look to take the final step of capturing a World Series.
- Blake Snell, SP: $39MM through 2023
- Kevin Kiermaier, CF: $26MM through 2022 (includes $2.5MM buyout of $13MM club option for 2023)
- Brandon Lowe, 2B/OF: $21.5MM through 2024 (includes $1MM buyout of $10.5MM club option for 2025; Rays also hold $11.5MM club option for 2026)
- Yoshi Tsutsugo, 3B/OF: $7MM through 2021
Note on arb-eligible players: this year’s arbitration projections are more volatile than ever, given the unprecedented revenue losses felt by clubs and the shortened 2020 schedule. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who developed our arbitration projection model, used three different methods to calculate different projection numbers. You can see the full projections and an explanation of each if you click here, but for the purposes of our Outlook series, we’ll be using Matt’s 37-percent method — extrapolating what degree of raise a player’s 2020 rate of play would have earned him in a full 162-game slate and then awarding him 37 percent of that raise.
- Jose Alvarado – $1.0MM
- Yonny Chirinos – $1.6MM
- Ji-Man Choi – $1.6MM
- Tyler Glasnow – $3.2MM
- Manuel Margot – $2.9MM
- Joey Wendle – $1.6MM
- Ryan Yarbrough – $2.2MM
- Non-tender candidates: Chirinos, Alvarado
It’s possible that in a normal 2020 season with fans in the stands and some extra postseason revenue in hand, the Rays might have taken the plunge in exercising Charlie Morton’s $15MM option. Or, it’s just as possible that the Rays would have declined the option anyway, since trying to maximize value on any available payroll space is just how the team does business. This includes even tough decisions like parting ways with Morton, who delivered nothing but good results over his two years in Tampa Bay.
Given the Rays’ 226-158 record over the last three seasons and the fact that they finished just two games shy of a World Series title, it’s hard to argue with the club’s methods. It also makes their offseason moves both somewhat easy and somewhat difficult to predict. Obviously we can rule out any big free agent signings or acquisitions of high-salaried stars (without another big contract going back in return), yet pretty much anything else besides a Wander Franco trade is conceivably on the table.
For instance, it isn’t surprising that the Rays are open to discussing Blake Snell in trade talks. Should any future reports indicate that Tampa Bay is floating other guaranteed-salary players like Kevin Kiermaier, Yoshi Tsutsugo, or even Brandon Lowe in discussions with other teams, that also shouldn’t raise eyebrows. It remains to be seen if Snell or any of this group will actually be dealt, but GM Erik Neander has shown he is willing to deal even premium players for less-heralded talents who are much less expensive but end up being comparably productive.
Let’s begin with the rotation, which is the most natural area of need with Morton gone. The Rays had hopes of bringing Morton back on a lesser salary, but the veteran found another $15MM in the form of a one-year deal with the Braves. That leaves Snell, Ryan Yarbrough, Tyler Glasnow, and likely Josh Fleming as the projected top four starters, with a host of candidates for the fifth spot. Prospects Shane McClanahan and Joe Ryan are on the cusp of big league action — McClanahan debuted in this year’s postseason — and the hope is that former top prospect Brent Honeywell Jr. might finally be healthy after three years lost to major injuries. Brendan McKay isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, but is penciled in to pitch at some point in 2021.
While the Rays have shown they’re comfortable putting young starters into high-leverage positions, it’s probably safe to assume the team will look to add at least one veteran to the mix. We can likely rule out any eight-figure average annual salaries for that next veteran — Morton’s two-year, $30MM deal was a surprise — but several interesting names could emerge as candidates for lower-cost one-year deals. These free agents could be attracted at the idea of pitching for a contender.
Tampa figures to look into acquiring a veteran to the relief corps as well, probably a left-hander since the club’s current bullpen mix tilts to the right. Jose Alvarado is a potential non-tender and Aaron Loup is a free agent, so there would certainly be room for more southpaw help. But, the Rays will likely continue to rely on their farm system and their ever-active shuttle of fresh Triple-A pitcher to fill out their pitching staff, whether it’s starters, relievers, or openers.
Trading from this minor league depth is a definite possibility, if perhaps a less of an option for the Rays this offseason than in past winters. Between all of their pitching injuries last season and Morton’s departure, the Rays might prefer to keep most of their young arms in the fold rather than openly offer them as trade chips, though naturally that wouldn’t stop Neander and company from moving a pitching prospect if the right offer emerged.
In what has become almost an annual offseason tradition, the Rays will again be looking for catching help. Mike Zunino’s option was declined, Michael Perez was claimed by the Pirates, and Kevan Smith elected free agency, leaving Tampa Bay without a single catcher who appeared in a game for them in 2020. It’s possible Zunino could be re-signed at a lower cost than his $4.5MM option, though even if he is brought back, the Rays would be in some sense settling for a catcher who offers quality defense but whose offense has cratered over the last two seasons. Prospect Ronaldo Hernandez could get a look but is more likely to be broken in as a backup rather than thrust into a regular role.
There aren’t many truly expensive options within the free agent catching market, so the Rays could make a signing and land another one-year stopgap behind the plate. If Tampa Bay did decide to trade from its prospect depth, it could be argued that they should be using that trade capital to find a more longer-term catching option. There aren’t many teams with a surplus of young catching, of course, but the Padres or Dodgers seem like speculative trade partners. Since the Cubs seem open to trading any veteran making a significant salary, Willson Contreras would also seem like a trade target, though Contreras’ projected $5.6MM arbitration salary might give the Rays some pause.
Elsewhere around the diamond, Randy Arozarena’s status is up in the air given his recent detainment due to an alleged domestic incident. Details are still scarce about the exact nature of the incident or what charges Arozarena may face, though legal issues aside, Arozarena may still face a possible suspension under the MLB/MLBPA joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.
The outfield was probably already going to be a target area since Hunter Renfroe was let go, but if Arozarena could also miss time, the Rays would have a starting outfield of Manuel Margot, Kiermaier, and Austin Meadows, with Brett Phillips as a potential fourth outfielder, and Tsutsugo, Lowe, and Mike Brosseau all getting some time in the corner spots. (Prospect Josh Lowe, Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2016, could also make his MLB debut in 2021.) A right-handed hitting outfielder would be a solid addition to that collection, and Arozarena’s situation could determine whether that outfielder is more of a part-timer, or a potential everyday type.
The Rays are pretty set around the infield, but it would fit Neander’s M.O. to trade any of these players if a (more) inexpensive upgrade could be found elsewhere. Depending on how the Rays feel about Nate Lowe’s readiness as a regular, it’s possible Ji-Man Choi could be replaced as the primary left-handed first base option, though Choi’s $1.6MM projected arbitration number isn’t onerous even for Tampa.
With so many controllable infielders already on hand, the Rays might feel more comfortable about moving some infield prospects in trade talks. Franco obviously isn’t going anywhere, but the likes of Vidal Brujan, Taylor Walls, or Xavier Edwards would definitely get the attention of other clubs.
Franco’s development looms over the Rays’ infield plans, and while he doesn’t even turn 20 years old until March and has yet to play above high-A ball, it wouldn’t be a shock if he made his big league debut before 2021 was over. Rays coaches and staffers did get a chance to evaluate Franco against higher-level talent at the team’s alternate training site over the summer, and Tampa has been aggressive in promoting its top prospects in the past. This all said, the smart money is on Willy Adames continuing to hold down the fort at shortstop while Franco gets another year of development under his belt.
Pre-pandemic, Tampa Bay had a projected Opening Day payroll of just under $72.5MM. Counting guaranteed contracts, projected arbitration salaries, and minimum salaries for pre-arb players, the Rays have approximately $63.68MM committed to their 2021 payroll. Considering revenue losses, getting back up to even the $70MM threshold seems like a stretch, leaving Neander (as usual) without many extra funds on hand this winter. The Rays front office’s ability to thrive within limited financial parameters will again be tested, but with much of a pennant-winning core already in place, Tampa could be just a piece or two away.
Jose Osuna announced on his Instagram page that he has signed with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball. Pirates GM Ben Cherington recently suggested that Osuna would be heading to play in Asia after Pittsburgh designated Osuna for assignment and subsequently released him earlier this week. In addition to Osuna, the Swallows seem to be close to landing another recent big leaguer, as multiple reports out of Japan have Astros right-hander Cy Sneed in talks with the Tokyo club.
Over four seasons and 705 plate appearances with the Pirates, Osuna hit .241/.280/.430 and saw significant playing time at first base, third base, and both corner outfield positions. This versatility didn’t help him keep a job on the Bucs’ roster, however, as the DFA essentially represented an early non-tender. Osuna was projected to earn $1.1MM in his first trip through the arbitration process.
An international signing out of Venezuela in 2009, Osuna has spent his entire 11-year pro career in the Pirates organization, so the move to NPB will represent a particularly notable change of scenery. Osuna doesn’t turn 28 until December, so there’s plenty of time for him to get his career on track and then weigh continuing playing in Japan or perhaps exploring a return to North American baseball.
Sneed is also entering his age-28 season, and the righty has a 5.59 ERA, 2.93 K/BB rate, and 10.2 K/9 over 38 2/3 career innings with Houston at the Major League level. Home runs have been a big issue for Sneed (1.9 HR/9), but he also had some bad luck, with a .367 BABIP during his brief time in the Show.
Sneed has worked only as a reliever during his two seasons with the Astros, usually appearing in a multi-inning capacity in 2019 before seeing a lot more single-inning duty this year. He started 155 of his 216 career games in the minor leagues, so it’s possible he could get another look as a starter with the Swallows.
There haven’t been any reports of Sneed being designated or released by Houston, so it would seem that some type of deal will have to be worked out (or has been worked out) between the Astros and Swallows. While Sneed is a controllable pitcher who has yet to even lose his rookie status, it could be that he just isn’t in the Astros’ long-term plans, so a move to NPB represents a new opportunity for the right-hander.
Yadier Molina has long stated that he wants to remain with the Cardinals, and he reiterated that hope in an interview with Laura A. Bonnelly V. of Mas Que Pelota (hat tip to Deportivo Z 101’s Hector Gomez). However, Molina also revealed four other teams who have shown interest in his services — the Yankees, Mets, Padres, and Angels.
The two New York clubs had already been linked to Molina’s market, and the Cards have been in talks for seemingly close to a year about another contract to keep Molina in St. Louis. The Angels and Padres are new additions to the hunt, however, and each represents an interesting possible landing spot for the nine-time Gold Glover.
At first glance, San Diego already seems set at catcher, with Austin Nola behind the plate, former top prospect Francisco Mejia slated as the backup and star prospect Luis Campusano probably within a year or two of his MLB debut. Signing Molina, however, would add immeasurably more experience and some veteran leadership to a team that plans to contend for a championship in 2021. While Nola’s ability to catch makes him a particularly valuable utility asset, he can also play several other positions around the diamond; the Padres could use Nola in a somewhat normal backup catcher role to spell Molina once a week, and then otherwise deploy him at other positions.
Molina has expressed interest in a two-year contract, but even if Molina were to land such a deal, that wouldn’t be much of a roadblock to Campusano as the Padres’ eventual catcher of the future. Mejia could be the odd man out if Molina joined the team, as Mejia has yet to show much over parts of four MLB seasons with the Indians and Padres. That said, Mejia has only 362 career plate appearances, only just turned 25, and was a consensus top-35 prospect as recently as the 2018-19 offseason, so he would still be an interesting trade chip if the Padres made him expendable.
There are some obvious family ties for Molina in Anaheim, as his brother Jose is the Angels’ catching coach, and his other brother Bengie spent his first eight MLB seasons in an Angels uniform. Yadier would also be reunited with his old Cardinals teammate Albert Pujols for the final season of Pujols’ ten-year, $240MM deal with the Halos.
Beyond the personal connections, Molina would also fill a need for Los Angeles since Max Stassi could miss the start of the season after undergoing hip surgery in October. Depending on how quickly Stassi recovers, the Angels could start Molina (and use Anthony Bemboom as the backup) until Stassi is ready, and then potentially move into something closer to a timeshare, though it’s probably safe to guess Molina might end up getting the bulk of the action.
Click here to read the transcript of tonight’s live baseball chat, Thanksgiving edition!
The Blue Jays’ long list of free agent targets has extended to the bullpen market, as MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets that Toronto was recently in touch with left-hander Brad Hand. The former All-Star entered free agency after the Indians declined their $10MM club option on Hand’s services.
Hand was placed on waivers by the Tribe prior to that declined option, as Cleveland was looking to save paying Hand a $1MM buyout by exposing him to any team willing to make a claim. All 29 teams (including Toronto) passed on Hand at the time, which is possibly indicative of how clubs are viewing spending on relief pitching this winter. In an offseason where more or less every team will be dealing with payroll limitations, a $10MM average annual value even for an established star reliever like Hand could be a reach.
The Jays are thought to have more spending capacity than most teams this winter, however, which is part of the reason they have been so quick to explore so many of the top names available. While they might not have been comfortable claiming Hand back in October, the Blue Jays would certainly seem to have a fit for Hand at the back of their bullpen. With Ken Giles being out for much of the 2020 season, six different pitchers recorded saves for the Jays last year — Anthony Bass led the way with seven saves, but Bass is now a free agent himself.
Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano represent a pair of intriguing in-house closer candidates, so as Morosi notes, signing an established closer like Hand may be more of a need than a want for Toronto. That said, there is certainly value in being able to roll out multiple strong relievers, especially for a Jays team that has a few questions marks within its starting rotation.
NOVEMBER 26: Arozarena has been released from detention, per a report from Mexican newspaper PorEsto (via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times). Arozarena and his former partner reached an agreement in which she declined to pursue legal action, reports ESPN’s Victor Alvarez. (The player’s attorney told PorEsto the presiding judge had determined there was not enough evidence for the outfielder to face charges). The MLB/MLBPA domestic violence policy permits the league to levy discipline even in the absence of criminal charges, so the league is expected to continue its investigation.
NOVEMBER 24: Randy Arozarena is under investigation from the league’s department of investigations after the Rays outfielder was detained in Mexico, ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter links). Two different Mexican media outlets (the Yucatan Ahora and Diaro de Yucatan) have reported on the alleged incident, and John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times has detailed the differences between the two accounts.
Arozarena is alleged to have tried to take his daughter away from the child’s mother after he arrived at the woman’s house, according to the Yucatan Ahora, and was also reportedly involved in a physical altercation with the woman’s father. Abel Guerra, Arozarena’s agent, told Romano that Arozarena was never married to the woman, correcting the Ahora’s description of the woman’s father as Arozarena’s former father-in-law. The Ahora reported that Arozarena was being held on abduction charges while the Diaro de Yucatan said he was being held on charges of violence against a woman. The exact nature of Arozarena’s charges aren’t yet known, as police haven’t yet commented on the situation.
Guerra hadn’t yet been in touch with his client, but told Romano that he had been in contact with other members of Arozarena’s family. “The only thing I know is he was hyper-sensitive about making sure that the child’s needs were being taken care of. He was always sending money down there, and he was very involved in her life,” Guerra said. “I don’t want to speculate about (anything else)….When it comes to family issues there are always layers of complexity. Everything is perspective. Hopefully everything clears itself up. It’s a horrible, unfortunate situation.”
Passan notes that any league discipline in regards to the incident would fall under the MLB/MLBPA joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. This policy gives the league broad purview to issue suspensions of indeterminate length, depending on each individual situation.
Acquired by the Rays from the Cardinals last winter, Arozarena rose to prominence with a 1.022 OPS over 76 plate appearances in the regular season, and then an even better 1.219 OPS (.358/.429/.790) over 91 PA during Tampa’s postseason run. Arozarena hit 10 homers throughout the playoffs and captured ALCS MVP honors along the way.
2:24PM: Toronto also has interest in J.T. Realmuto, according to Sports Grid’s Craig Mish (Twitter link). While the Jays have a fair amount of catching depth already on hand, Realmuto would obviously present a big upgrade over current starter Danny Jansen, backup Reese McGuire, and top prospect Alejandro Kirk. If the Blue Jays did sign Realmuto, it’s fair to assume the Jays would shop at least one of their in-house catchers to other teams.
12:32PM: For the second straight offseason, the Blue Jays are checking in on a wide range of free agent options. The club has already been linked to George Springer and DJ LeMahieu, and now The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) adds that Toronto has spoken with representatives for Michael Brantley and Justin Turner, and the Jays also made an offer to Kevin Gausman before Gausman accepted the Giants’ one-year, $18.9MM qualifying offer. Going beyond only established big leaguers, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Jays have interest in Korean shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, noting that Toronto has “evaluated him closely.”
Beginning with the position players, Brantley, Turner, and Kim would each cost less than the likes of Springer or LeMahieu. MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents had Brantley and Turner right next to each other in the No. 13 and 14 positions, projecting the two veterans for similar contracts — Brantley a two-year, $28MM pact and Turner for two years and $24MM. Kim ranked seventh on the list due to his younger age (25), projected for a five-year, $40MM deal and another $7.625MM in a posting fee to the KBO League’s Kiwoom Heroes.
Brantley turned 34 in May and is seemingly less of a positional need for the Jays since he has exclusively played as a left fielder or DH over the last five seasons. Toronto already has Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in left field and a Vladimir Guerrero Jr./Rowdy Tellez tandem penciled in for the first base and DH roles, so a Brantley signing would to hint that a trade could be in the offing. Guerrero has been vocal about wanting to play third base again, so conceivably the Jays could find room for Brantley without a trade, but it doesn’t seem too likely that the team would install Guerrero as a full-time option at the hot corner.
Turner or Kim would be the easier positional fit since either could immediately slide into the Blue Jays’ open third base spot. Turner just celebrated his 36th birthday yesterday and, like Brantley, continues to swing a powerful bat into his 30’s. A return to Los Angeles is certainly possible, however, as Rosenthal writes that Turner “still appears to be [the Dodgers’ first choice” in terms of infield additions, though they perhaps couldn’t be ruled out as a potential suitor for LeMahieu. While Turner’s positive coronavirus test during Game 6 of the World Series and subsequent post-game return to the field to celebrate with his Dodgers teammates adds an inescapably strange footnote to his career, Turner won’t face any league discipline for the breach of COVID-19 protocol.
Signing Kim would be perhaps the most intriguing move possible, as unlike Brantley or Turner, Kim would be seen as a long-term building block to a Toronto organization that is already stocked with young infield talent both on the MLB roster and in the farm system. While Kim could play third base immediately, he is also a well-regarded defensive shortstop, so the Blue Jays could experiment with trying Kim at short and moving current shortstop Bo Bichette to second or third base (with Cavan Biggio playing the other position).
Adding Kim might also made it more feasible for the Jays to trade one of their top infield prospects, with Jordan Groshans, Miguel Hiraldo, or Orelvis Martinez probably more likely to be moved than 2020 fifth-overall pick Austin Martin. Since Martin is also a multi-positional threat, the Jays might try to develop him as a center fielder if Kim is signed to bolster the infield picture. The Blue Jays (and the 29 other MLB teams) will get their first chance to directly speak with Kim after his 30-day negotiating window opens on November 26.
While possibilities abound on the position player side, pitching is Toronto’s chief focus this winter, so it isn’t surprising that they made an early pitch for Gausman. Rosenthal reports that the Jays offered Gausman a three-year deal worth roughly $40MM, though the right-hander instead opted for the one-year deal to remain in San Francisco. Should Gausman deliver another good season in 2021 and then return to the free agent market next winter, he’ll surely receive offers beyond the two years and $21.1MM he left on the table to accept the Giants’ qualifying offer.
The Giants have interest in left-hander Jon Lester, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (Twitter link). Lester entered free agency after the Cubs bought him out for $10MM rather than exercise a $25MM club option on the veteran’s services for 2021.
This isn’t the first time Lester has been connected to the Giants, as Morosi notes that Lester “seriously considered” joining the club during his last trip through the free agent market, back in the 2014-15 offseason. Obviously much has changed within the Giants organization in those six years, though the club has some other ties to Lester — both manager Gabe Kapler and pitching coach Andrew Bailey are former teammates, dating back to Lester’s days with the Red Sox.
Lester would offer durability and veteran leadership to a rotation, though he is coming off a lackluster year in terms of on-field results. Over 61 innings with the Cubs in 2020, Lester posted a 5.16 ERA, 2.47 K/BB rate, and 6.2 K/9. With the caveat of the shortened season, that ERA and K/9 represented career-worsts for Lester, while his 1.6 HR/9 was the highest of his career. There wasn’t much to like from the Statcast side either, as Lester gave up a lot of hard contact and his .328 wOBA actually outpaced his .348 xwOBA.
As it happens, these numbers might actually put Lester more squarely on the Giants’ radar. As president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi recently told the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea and other reporters, the free agent pitching market contains “a number of guys who have pretty significant pedigree who are coming off injuries or down seasons for whatever reasons. It’s going to be a market where a lot of players are going to be looking to do short-term, make-good deals to re-enter the market. For us, the cases of the guys we signed last year and the pitching infrastructure we’ve built up the last couple of years will be a strong selling point for us for those kinds of targets.”
Lester doesn’t quite fit that model, as another long-term contract in free agency probably isn’t in the cards for a hurler as he enters his age-37 season. Still, landing an innings-eater like Lester would help add some depth to a Giants rotation. Kevin Gausman was re-signed via the qualifying offer, Johnny Cueto is looking to bounce back from a disappointing year of his own, and left-hander Tyler Anderson is currently lined up as the third starter. Beyond that veteran trio, Andrew Suarez, Logan Webb, Conner Menez, and (once he is back from Tommy John surgery) Tyler Beede all project to be rotation candidates, so another seasoned arm could be preferable given the lack of experience among these youngsters.
Lester and the Cubs were known to have mutual interest in a new contract, though there hasn’t been any news on that front in almost a month. Though Jed Hoyer is now running Chicago’s front office rather than Theo Epstein, it’s probably somewhat safe to assume that the interest is still there on the Cubs’ side considering Hoyer’s long stint as assistant GM in the organization (and his own familiarity with Lester when Hoyer was an assistant GM with the Red Sox).
12:43PM: In an update to his original story, Rosenthal writes that the Astros are “not engaged in any active conversations on Correa.” The team has, however, been in touch with LeMahieu.
11:39AM: The Astros are “floating” Carlos Correa’s name in trade talks with other teams, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required). This isn’t the first time that Correa has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate, though last year, then-general manager Jeff Luhnow shot down the possibility.
The root cause of Houston’s openness to a Correa trade remains the same — the team considers it “unlikely” that the shortstop will sign an extension before he hits free agency. Correa is now only one season away from hitting the open market, as he is slated to be part of an elite group of shortstops headlining the 2021-22 free agent class.
Beyond Correa’s contract, naturally, the Astros face an entirely new set of issues that weren’t present when they thought about moving Correa last winter, ranging from the sign-stealing scandal that ousted Luhnow and then-manager A.J. Hinch, revenue losses caused by the pandemic, to Justin Verlander being lost to Tommy John surgery for the 2021 season. Plus, the Astros also face the loss of two other notable position players, as George Springer and Michael Brantley are both free agents.
Moving Correa on top of losing both Springer and Brantley could almost make 2021 into something of a mini-rebuild type of season for Houston, though there hasn’t been any indication that the Astros are looking to take much of a step backwards. For instance, the Astros have had talks with Brantley and (as a replacement for Springer in center field) Jackie Bradley Jr.
However, Rosenthal reports that the Astros aren’t likely to pursue any of Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or DJ LeMahieu, as since those players rejected qualifying offers, Houston would have to give up draft picks in order to sign them. This isn’t an appetizing thought for an organization that already lost multiple picks as part of their punishment for the sign-stealing scandal. Re-signing their own free agent in Springer (who also turned down a QO) wouldn’t cost the Astros any picks, of course, though Houston might prefer to restock their draft coffers with the compensatory pick received if Springer signed elsewhere.
Trading Correa would also theoretically net a good return for the Astros, though a lot of factors will impact his market. Teams might not be keen on paying a premium for just one year of Correa’s services, and there are several other options available to shortstop-needy teams in both free agency (Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Ha-Seong Kim) and in trades (Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez).
Correa is coming off a season that saw him hit only .264/.326/.383 over 221 plate appearances in the regular season, but he caught fire during Houston’s postseason run, with a whopping 1.221 OPS over 55 PA. Correa is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility and is projected to earn $8.8MM under the “37 percent” calculation method of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.