The Astros don’t have a regular shortstop anymore. Carlos Correa, the star who owned the position for the past seven years, is no longer a member of the team at least for now. For the second year in a row, Houston faces the departure of one of its studs — George Springer, if you’re wondering. To have Correa back, they need to put enough numbers on the table to beat the competition.
They began the race offering a five-year contract worth $160 million, according to FOX 26’s Mark Berman. But nowadays when teams are giving 10-year contracts, you don’t have to be a genius to know that Correa is probably seeking a much larger deal, especially considering his age (27).
And even though the Astros may have the money, I got the sense that they aren’t willing to sign a different star shortstop than Correa. There are at least four other big names on the open market —Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Javier Báez—but Correa is their guy. If they can’t bring him back to H-Town, there’s not a reason to believe the Astros would block Jeremy Peña with someone else.
If Carlos ends up signing to play somewhere else (he was seen with Tigers’ manager and former Astros’ skipper AJ Hinch as pictured below), the Astros might see that as a cycle closure and the opportunity to prove someone else. And that someone else could be the promising Dominican prospect or even Cuban shortstop/centerfielder Pedro León, the second-best prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline.
While it’s hard to imagine Peña will deliver Correa’s production from Day 1, he looked great in the Minors during the 2021 season. As an improved version of himself and noting he made a late 2021 debut after suffering an injury in Spring Training, Peña was impressive in Triple-A across 30 games.
With the Sugar Land Skeeters, he hit 10 home runs (a career-high) in only 122 at-bats, but that wasn’t it. Peña also registered four doubles and two triples, with 19 runs batted in and 22 runs scored. He stole five bases in six attempts and recorded a .944 OPS.
Even though Peña is currently playing in the Dominican Republic Winter League with the Estrellas Orientales, the Astros might feel comfortable signing a stopgap for shortstop, someone who would take a bit of responsibility off Peña’s shoulders. And that’s when smaller names such as José Iglesias, Ehire Adrianza, or Freddy Galvis come to mind, though we have to consider Houston already has Aledmys Díaz.
Going with Peña instead of Correa, the Astros would have no excuses to not strengthen every other weak point on the team going forward into 2022, including starting pitching, bullpen, and center field.