When Carlos Correa and the Astros talked contract extension last spring, the shortstop said Houston made him offers of six years and $120 million, and then five years and $125 million. While Correa is just hours away from the free-agent market, the Astros are still trying to retain his services, and Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link) reports that the club’s last offer is a five-year deal worth $160 million.
This would be the largest contract Houston has ever given a player, topping its five-year, $151 million extension with Jose Altuve. The offer’s $32MM average annual value would also be the 10th-highest AAV of any contract in baseball history, making it a pretty significant commitment on the Astros’ part.
However, it is also drastically below what Correa is likely to receive on the open market. Correa is entering his age-27 season, and he has already indicated that he’ll be looking for a pact in the nine- or 10-year range. It isn’t out of the question that Correa might even hit $32 million (or at least come close) in average annual value on such a long-term deal, so it doesn’t seem like Houston’s offer is going to inspire a late-minute change of mind on Correa’s part.
In fact, there is enough of a gap between the Astros’ offer and Correa’s asking price that it’s probably safe to assume that Houston didn’t have much expectation of the shortstop actually accepting the deal. There could be some public relations logistics at play, since the Astros can now present that $32 million AAV as a “we tried” gesture to fans upset over Correa’s departure.
However, the offer could also be interpreted as something of a public sign to other free agents about what the Astros are willing to spend on a top-tier free agent, if not Correa himself. The Astros haven’t gone beyond a five-year contract with any player during Jim Crane’s ownership of the team, and while Crane recently said “things could change” in that regard, it is possible they might be willing to only go as high as six years, judging by their initial offer to Correa. Houston does appear to be willing to make up for the lack of contractual length with higher average annual salaries, which could be of interest to other players. A free agent who is already past age 30, for instance, probably isn’t counting on a contract beyond five or six guaranteed years, and thus might be keen on a relatively shorter-term deal that promises a higher AAV.