The Houston Astros appear to have let another top free-agent walk out the door without so much as batting an eye. With Carlos Correa rejecting the qualifying offer and will most certainly turn down the only offer from the Astros, it appears that Correa is already starting to distance himself from the team that drafted him in the first round back in 2012. The question that remains to be answered now is, who replaces Correa?
Filling the Position
With the Astros having around $50 million to spend this offseason, according to Spotrac, it gives the Astros some space to try and find the best fit at shortstop going into 2022. The Astros have options internally in the way of Aledmys Diaz. His range on defense is not even on the same playing field as Correa, but as a stop-gap, Diaz is a capable everyday shortstop.
Much talk has been about Alex Bregman moving to shortstop and having Diaz take over at third base. Yes, Bregman played shortstop in college, but he lacks the range to cover the position effectively. Not to mention, with all of the recent leg injuries, moving Bregman to shortstop would do more harm than good. So, with that, Bregman will stay put at third base.
Two players that Astros fans will see soon are Jeremy Pena and Pedro Leon. Of the two, Pena seems the most likely candidate to take over for Correa. Given his inexperience at the big league level, the Astros will need to watch Pena to see if he can play shortstop at a high level. This is where having Diaz as the stop-gap comes in.
Having spent the postseason on the taxi squad, the Astros front office got an up-close look at Pena, and the rumor has it that many players were impressed with his ability. Depending on how Pena does down in the Dominican Winter League and Spring Training will determine whether or not he is ready for the big leagues.
Possible Free Agents
As mentioned previously, the Astros have about $50 million to spend this offseason. With other areas that need to be addressed within the lineup, the Astros may explore free agency. Trevor Story‘s name has been mentioned quite a bit. Given his success offensively at Coors Field with the Colorado Rockies, Story will fit in nicely with the Crawford Boxes in left field at Minute Maid Park. If successful, the Astros would be getting one of the best shortstops that will fit into their formula.
Chris Taylor is another player the Astros may take a look at. With uncertainty in centerfield, the Astros may turn to Taylor to fill in. What makes Taylor so unique is that he can play multiple positions, including shortstop. He may not be the flashiest of names, but he can get the job done and swing the bat. Some analysts have compared Taylor Boston Red Sox centerfielder Enrique Hernandez.
No matter what the Astros do this offseason, it is clear that it’s time to move from Correa. What Correa has been able to do for this team has been valuable. He brought so much confidence to this team at a time where there was none. It will be strange to see someone other than Correa turning double plays with Jose Altuve next season, but the Astros are still going to be the favorite to win the division and will most certainly be in the World Series talks.
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