HOUSTON — What, him worry?
At first blush, impending free agent Carlos Correa appears a poor fit for the Yankees, despite their need for a shortstop in 2022, because of that whole scandal in which the 2017 Astros illegally stole signs from opponents — including the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, it’s believed — to help them win a championship.
Yet say this for Houston’s two-time All-Star shortstop: He can handle the heat.
“Define ‘tough.’ For us, it’s been fun,” Correa said Thursday at Minute Maid Park, after a reporter asked him whether it has been tough getting booed everywhere besides here because of the scandal. “Just going on the road, playing great baseball, showing people that we are really a good team, that we play great baseball at home and on the road. It’s been fun fighting the fans on the road and having a good time with it.”
The 27-year-old has walked the walk, too, posting an excellent .286/.353/.476 slash line in 75 regular-season road games (he went a better .272/.379/.494 in 73 home games) and knocking his club’s biggest hit Tuesday — a two-run, third-inning double — to eliminate the White Sox from the ALDS at Guaranteed Rate Field (worst ballpark name ever) as the Astros faced angry fans for the first time since Major League Baseball released its report on the scandal in early 2020.
In 67 postseason games heading into Friday night’s ALCS Game 1 against the Red Sox, Correa boasts of a career .276/.350/.531 slash line, with 17 homers and 54 RBIs. Throw in his strong walk year, with 26 homers and excellent defense, and he checks all of the boxes when it comes to performing in the spotlight.
“I think he has dealt with it great,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “You can’t do anything about four, five months in advance. You can only play today. And I was in that situation myself, and you don’t worry about the money. You just perform, and everything else will take care of itself. If you perform, you do the job, then everything else will follow after that.
“I’m telling you, Carlos has done an outstanding job because I’ve seen a bunch of guys in their free-agent year really can’t handle the insecurity of not having security, and so to me Carlos … he doesn’t talk about it. He just comes to play.”
Asked Thursday about his contract status, Correa said, “I’m not thinking about that … I’ll focus on that when the season’s over. It’s not over yet.”
The Astros are not expected to retain Correa, whose suitors could include the Tigers, Phillies and Rangers as the Yankees monitor the rich shortstop free-agent crop that also includes the Mets’ Javier Baez, the Dodgers’ Corey Seager, the Blue Jays’ Marcus Semien and the Rockies’ Trevor Story.