Here’s the latest out of Houston:
- Shortstop Carlos Correa’s name briefly surfaced in trade rumors last month, and general manager James Click said Thursday (via Mark Berman of Fox 26) that they are “open to all avenues” that could improve the franchise. However, Click added that Correa’s presence “makes it a lot easier to win,” so it doesn’t seem a deal is imminent if the Astros are aiming to earn a fifth straight playoff berth in 2021. The bigger question might be whether the Astros will retain Correa for the long haul, as he’s due to become one of the game’s most coveted free agents after next season.
- In the here and now, the Astros are facing a couple of big losses in free agency in outfielders George Springer and Michael Brantley, who are currently on the open market. Springer looks as if he’ll earn a nine-figure contract this offseason. Brantley won’t cash in to that extent, but he should do well in his own right. It will be a challenge for the Astros to re-sign either of them, but Click indicated (via Berman) that they’re interested in doing so. “We are engaged on a number of fronts, those guys included,” said Click. “We will continue to put our best foot forward there and see if we can keep the team together.” If the Astros aren’t able to retain those two, though, they will “be ready to bring in some players that can help us out,” according to Click.
- Veteran reliever Joe Smith missed all of last season after opting out over family health concerns, though the right-hander told Jake Kaplan of The Athletic that he wants to play in 2021 (Kaplan’s piece is worth a full read for those who want more information on Smith’s decision). The 36-year-old Smith has been an asset to a handful of teams’ bullpens throughout his career, so if he does come back next season, he should once again help Houston. Smith has one year and $4MM left on his contract.
- Click revealed that the Astros expect third base coach Gary Pettis to return in 2021, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Pettis missed the end of the season after a multiple myeloma diagnosis in September. The former major league outfielder, 62, has been on the Astros’ staff since 2015.