Astros reach deals with McCullers, Díaz; not Correa

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Lance McCullers Jr. #43 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 17, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Lance McCullers Jr. #43 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 17, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – The Houston Astros agreed to one-year contracts with right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. and infielder Aledmys Díaz on Friday to avoid salary arbitration, but couldn’t come to terms with star shortstop Carlos Correa.

Houston also finalized a $12.5 million, two-year deal with reliever Pedro Báez that includes a club option and could be worth $19.5 million for three seasons. Last season he was 0-0 with a 3.18 ERA and two saves in 18 appearances for the World Series champion Dodgers.

The Astros and Correa exchanged arbitration figures Friday, with Correa asking for $12.5 million in 2021 and Houston offering $9.75 million. The sides could still strike an agreement until an arbitrator hears the case remotely next month and issues a verdict. The arbitrator will go with one number or the other — no settling in the middle.

The 26-year-old Correa batted .264 with five home runs in 58 games last season, a disappointment he erased with a splendid October. He hit .362 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 13 postseason games, pushing the sub-.500 Astros to Game 7 of the AL Championship Series before they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Correa was set to make $8 million in 2020 but ended up with $2,962,963 in prorated pay during the pandemic-shortened season.

McCullers will make $6.5 million next season after a solid year in 2020 in his return after missing a season following Tommy John surgery. McCullers was 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 11 starts last season, earning $1,518,519 prorated from a $4.1 million salary. He'll be one of the leaders of Houston's rotation in 2021 with ace Justin Verlander out all year after having Tommy John surgery.

The 30-year-old Díaz will make $3 million next season. He played just 17 games in an injury-plagued 2020 season. He hit .241 with three homers and six RBIs in his second season in Houston and earned $962,963 prorated from a $2.6 million salary.

In seven seasons with the Dodgers, Báez is 21-15 with a 3.03 ERA in 355 appearances. The right-hander has 369 strikeouts in 356 career innings and has limited opponents to a .206 batting average.

He's been particularly tough on left-handers, holding them to a .181 mark. His best season came in 2019 when he went 7-2 and led the team with 71 appearances and set career bests in wins, opponents' batting average (.174) and WHIP (0.95).

He gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million this year and $5.5 million in 2022. Houston has a $7.5 million option for 2023 with a $2 million buyout.

Báez's 2022 salary can escalate by $1 million based on innings this year: $250,000 each for 30, 40, 50 and 60. His option would escalate to $8 million if he has 100 innings in 2021 and 2022 combined.

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