Astros’ Carlos Correa planning for free agency

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Astros shortstop Carlos Correa says he hasn’t seriously discussed a long-term deal with Houston and plans to seek a big payday in free agency next offseason.

“We were not close at all. There were not really any negotiations,” Correa said Thursday before the Astros opened against the Oakland Athletics. “It’s another year with the Houston Astros. I’m going to go out there, give it my best and try to bring another championship to this city.”

Correa said last week he turned down a $120 million, six-year offer and said Thursday he’s also declined a $125 million, five-year bid – paltry compared to the $341 million, 10-year deal shortstop Francisco Lindor agreed to with the New York Mets on Wednesday night. Lindor and Correa were both eligible for free agency after this season.

“I love it, it’s a great contract,” Correa said of Lindor’s deal. “He deserves every penny of it. … He pushed the market for every shortstop coming after him.”

The 26-year-old Correa set a deadline of opening day to reach an agreement. He’ll earn $11.3 million this .

“The relationship is great. There are no hard feelings,” Correa said. “It’s a business. They made it very clear to me, they said: `We don’t believe in long contracts. We don’t believe in big contracts.’ So once I hit free agency I’m going to look out for a big, long contract. They made it very clear that they don’t believe in that.”

Correa was Houston’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, a year the Astros experienced their second of three straight seasons with more than 100 losses. He debuted in 2015 and was voted AL Rookie of the Year. Correa was an All-Star in 2017, when he helped lead the Astros to their first World Series title.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, he batted .264 with five home runs and 25 RBIs. He insists he’s ready to play and focus on baseball.

“I will always love this city and it will always be my second home,” he said. “If this is my last season, I love the fans here, I know they love me back. But if it’s my last season I’m going to try to finish it with a championship. That’s my main goal this year.”

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.