Astros fans are speculating about a Carlos Correa callup

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File this under “interesting” and for now cross-file it under “mere speculation, likely baseless and a tad overly-optimisic” but the deep underworld of the Houston Astros Internet Fandom has been speculating about a possible Carlos Correa callup today.

The basis? Well, here’s how that deep underworld is putting it:

Villar made more mental mistakes and bad defensive plays today and Correa left today’s game without sustaining an injury (strange) and Villar was pissed off leaving the clubhouse and didn’t answer reporters questions. Connection? I sure hope so! I guess we must wait and see.

It’s not just one guy — many have been, some asking me what I think — so even if it’s just chatter, let’s talk about it some.

My view is that this is fueled by some serious prospect fantasizing, which Correa understandably inspires, combined with some serious Jonathan Villar fatigue. Villar made some gaffes yesterday, including trying to get an inside-the-park homer when he had a clear triple, getting tossed out at home and he made a throwing error which cost the Astros a run. The Astros weren’t winning that game anyway, but it was discouraging to a fan base which has grown weary with Villar’s baserunning and defensive gaffes this year.

As for Correa’s early exit in his Triple-A game? There are any number of reasons why that could happen. His team was down 4-0 when he was removed. Maybe he’s just getting some rest.

The biggest reason why I am dubious about a Correa callup is that it’s really close to his Super Two cutoff time. It could be June 1, but Super Two is a floating date dependent upon the timing of other callups (i.e. players who rank in the top 22% of all 2-year players in terms of service time become arbitration eligible). Often an educated guess puts the Super Two date around June 1. But even if it does, the Astros would be wise to wait several days after that to call him up thereby ensuring that they get three full years of pre-arb salaries from the kid. It’s also worth noting that the Astros have a four-game lead right now. Obviously every game counts, but things aren’t desperate for them.

Finally, and least importantly, if you’re of the “let’s boost the gate” school of prospect callups, some more advanced notice could be useful for the Houston business and promotions people. The Astros have a four game series against the O’s at home right now, but it’s hard for people to change plans and go to a game at the last minute mid-week. They’re back home following a road trip on June 12, a weekend series. Why not target a callup for then — if they want to call him up — thereby helping the Super Two calculus AND selling some tickets, getting some shirts printed up, etc.?

Of course the best way to find this kind of thing out is to talk to people with the Astros. I don’t usually do this kind of reporting, but I shot an email to a couple of people asking for the record. If I were them I wouldn’t tell me, so don’t hold your breath on me getting a scoop here. The more likely people are reporters who cover the Astros every day, and none of them are reporting this yet. For me that leaves this squarely in that land of fan wishing and hoping.

But wishing and hoping can be a fun way to kill time until game time. Especially when it involves a prospect as cool and exciting as Carlos Correa, who we all want to see sooner rather than later.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Free-agent ace Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner leaves the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

Texas announced the signing Friday night after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”

Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco, as its new manager. The Rangers’ six straight losing seasons are their worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

This latest blockbuster move comes just before baseball’s winter meetings, which begin early next week in San Diego. The Rangers said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson University, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his professional career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons.

New York won 101 regular-season games last season, second-most in franchise history, but was caught by NL East champion Atlanta down the stretch and settled for a wild card.

After declining his 2023 option, ending his contract with the Mets at $107 million over four years, deGrom rejected a $19.65 million qualifying offer in November, so New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation. Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.