Let me be upfront: I love Carlos Correa. I love the way he fields, hits, and throws. I love his smile, his bat flips, his fist pumps, and his swagger. I love his charity work, his post-WS proposal, and his love for Houston.
I want him to stay in Houston for a long time. Certainly longer than the next six months, a hope that is now much less realistic if, as has been reported, the Astros offered Correa (6/120) less than Springer fetched on the open market (6/150). That offer, in no uncertain terms, was absurdly low. Let me briefly lay out the case.
Before 2020, Correa had played parts of five season in Houston. In 2015 and 2016, he was injury free. From 2017-2019, he was not. In 2018, the injury affected him after his return, which has been well-documented. But we’ll parse that later. In those seasons he put up 18.5 WAR, which is good for 3.7 WAR/season. That’s not parsing the partial 2015 season when he was in the minors, or any of the injuries, nor is it discounting the 2018 season, when his wRC+ was 101, and he only played 110 games at age 23.
By age (26), Carlos should be entering his prime, unlike Springer who’s close to leaving it. Let’s say his prime is no better than his pre-prime, and that he’s no healthier than he was from 2015-2019. Even as an injury-riddled player, he’s basically worth 4 WAR/year. Let’s pare it down to 3.5 WAR/year. If 1 WAR fetches 7 million on the open market, his AAV should be at least 25 million. AT LEAST.
If we omit the offensive numbers from 2018 (injury-riddled) and 2020 (no explanation required). Here is his rolling wRC+...... 136, 123, 152, 143. That’s jaw-dropping, drool on the floor numbers for a guy not yet in his age-prime. For a guy who plays premium defense at a premium position, that’s potential-HOF-if-he-stays-healthy.
And we haven’t talked about the playoffs yet. Carlos Correa is 26 until September. In baseball history, here are the players who’ve hit more postseason home runs than CC: Altuve, Springer, Mantle, Jackson, Gehrig, B Williams, M Ramirez, Pujols. How about Career WPA? Carlos is also 9th. He’s 7th in career playoff RBI. Have I mentioned he’s 26? If we keep Carlos, he has a chance to be mentioned in the same breath as Jeter and David Ortiz when it comes to playoff legends. (He’s already tied with Ortiz for postseason walk-offs.) Heck, it’s a likelihood. For a franchise that took 42 years to win a playoff series, and whose two HOFers had notable postseason struggles, that’s unimaginable.
And have we mentioned his double-play partner? He’s a guy named Jose Altuve, currently sitting on 1610 hits and 35.3 career Fangraphs WAR. When we think greatest DP combos of all-time, one phrase comes to mind: Trammell & Whitaker. Keep these two together, and the Astros could potentially have the greatest DP combo in baseball history.
As a fan, what else do you want? We have the chance to lock up a guy who might surpass the all-time playoff record for HRs by the time he’s 30?!?! Who, when healthy, is a top-10 player in baseball. Who loves Houston, is emerging as the team’s leader, and has a preternatural ability to shine in the biggest moments. Anything less than 8/240 is a great deal for Crane.
Carlos and Lance were drafted in 2012, Luhnow’s first draft. We long-timers have been cheering for him ever since we found a link to the Greenville box scores. In 2013, I drove to the Quad Cities to see him in person. With three cracks at 1-1, he was the one pick that Luhnow hit gold on. He’s never been part of a losing season in Houston.
Jim Crane has about 70 million coming off the books next year. With Altuve, McCullers & Bregman under contract for a stretch, and Tucker and Alvarez under control through the mid-2020s, there’s no need to think the window is closing, not with a minimum of 5 AL teams making the playoffs each year. Why give away a legend for a comp pick?
Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Berlin wall and told the Soviet leader, “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!” With similar moral certainty, I bang on this keyboard and declare, “Mr. Crane, pay that man!”