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Carlos Correa, Dusty Baker uncertain on futures as Houston Astros’ season ends



HOUSTON — As Astros star Carlos Correa stepped into the box in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night, he understood the magnitude of the moment for him.

The game and subsequently the Series were well in hand for the Atlanta Braves, who captured the championship just moments later.

For Correa, it was likely his last at-bat as an Astro. He is a free agent and can sign with any of the 29 other teams starting Monday.

“It was the only thing going through my mind, to be honest,” Correa said after the 7-0 loss. “A lot of feelings, mixed emotions. I spent seven years with this club. Yeah, it was going through my mind for sure.”

Correa will give the Astros a chance to sign him, but the sides couldn’t come to an agreement last time they talked, before the 2021 season. It’s likely he’ll test the market.

“I’d be sad, but … he’s not a free agent yet,” longtime teammate Jose Altuve said. “I know we’re going to try to re-sign him. Like I told you last time, I haven’t lost my hopes.”

Altuve and Correa are part of a core of Astros who made it to the World Series three times in the past five years. They won it in 2017 — though they were caught stealing opponents’ signs illegally — then lost to the Washington Nationals in 2019 and now the Braves in 2021.

The Astros, as a team, were out-homered in the six games by series MVP Jorge Soler. He hit three long balls while the Astros hit just two, both by Altuve.

“First off, you’ve got to give a ton of credit to them [the Braves],” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “They were unbelievable. They pitched really well. They swung the bats, played good defense.

“We normally do hit a little bit more for power, and we didn’t. But you learn and move on. You use it as fuel during the off-season to get better and learn from it.”

Bregman wasn’t completely healthy, nursing a hand injury, but vowed to be ready for spring training.

Meanwhile, Correa isn’t the only free agent on the Astros. Veteran Zack Greinke is undecided about his future, while manager Dusty Baker doesn’t have a contract for next season, either. Owner Jim Crane and general manager James Click indicated recently they would like him back, and Baker wants to finish what he started.

The sides will talk soon.

“Yeah, because I’ve still got some unfinished business,” Baker said. “I love these guys over here. I love the town of Houston.

“It’s tough to take now, but this too shall pass. It really hurts, but it’s over.”

The Astros couldn’t overcome starting pitching issues, which plagued them the longer the postseason went on. They won the American League pennant without ace Lance McCullers Jr., who left the division series against the Chicago White Sox with a forearm injury. It caught up with them in the World Series. Their Game 6 starter, rookie Luis Garcia, pitched on short rest and gave up three runs in 2 2/3 innings. It was a theme for Houston throughout the week.

“We just kind of ran out of gas pitching-wise,” Baker said.

Talk after the loss eventually turned back to Correa, who won Rookie of the Year in 2015 and made two All-Star teams as an Astro. He has a baby on the way and said it will be a nice distraction for him as his free agency begins.

“It’s a different offseason for me, something obviously I’m not used to,” he said. “So take it one day at a time. … This group is a special group. I told them in the clubhouse, never take for granted what we’ve built here. Not many teams are like this. Not many teams are a family. Not many teams go out to work every single day and are successful.”

Baker made his opinion known about Correa as well. Assuming the manager is back, he wants his shortstop back as well.

“He’s a gladiator,” Baker said. “He’s a warrior but a gentleman at the same time. I can tell how our guys gravitate towards him. I can tell even how the opposition always shows respect for him, especially when they’re around second base.

“Win or lose, he doesn’t clown. He doesn’t showboat. He just plays the game the way it should be played.”

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Kenneth Moffett, federal mediator of 1981 baseball strike and former MLBPA executive, dies at 90



ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Kenneth Moffett, the federal mediator during the 1981 baseball strike who briefly succeeded Marvin Miller as the second head of the players’ association, has died. He was 90.

Moffett died Nov. 19 at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, said his wife, the former Mary Taddeo. He had been ill with dementia for about six months and the death certificate cited natural causes, she said Monday.

His death was first reported by The New York Times.

Moffett was part of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in 1980, when baseball players and owners reached an agreement that put off a work stoppage until the following year. As deputy director of the FMCS during the 50-day strike that interrupted the 1981 season, he shuttled between the parties, set up bargaining sessions and suggested frameworks for settlement.

He also worked at the FMCS during the August 1981 strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization against the Federal Aviation Administration. President Ronald Reagan ordered the firing of workers who did not return to their jobs.

Moffett said in 1994 that baseball negotiations were different from all other types of collective bargaining.

“It is done in a fishbowl,” Moffett told The Associated Press. “Every statement, every press release — anything — is for public consumption. In most negotiations, you don’t hear a peep until there’s a settlement.”

As the union’s 1994 strike deadline approached, Moffett said: “My gut reaction is it seems like nothing’s changed. … The issues are still the same.”

Moffett was hired in December 1982 as the second executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association and took over on Jan. 1, 1983, when Miller retired ahead of his 66th birthday. Moffett was given a three-year contract but lasted just 10 1/2 months and was fired that Nov. 22 by the union’s executive board.

Donald Fehr, then the union’s general counsel, took over as acting executive director on Dec. 8, became executive director on a full-time basis in January 1986 and held the top spot until retiring in December 2009.

Moffett became assistant to the president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians in 1985. That union merged with the Communications Workers of America in 1994. He retired in 2003 as the CWA’s human resources director.

Moffett is survived by his fourth wife, whom he married in 1999; and three children from his first wife, Barbara: son Kenneth Jr., director of negotiations at the National Treasury Employees Union; son John; and daughter Laura Tornell. Moffett’s three previous marriages ended in divorce.

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The Mets spent, the Yankees didn’t and more



When MLB free agency began, as I was comparing notes with agents and executives, a popular discussion was how many players would sign big deals before the collective bargaining agreement expired on Dec. 1. The common opinion was that only a couple of guys would sign for $75 million or more — and some legitimately thought zero would. They also expected slower-than-usual overall volume.

All of that turned out to be … wildly wrong!

Now we’re in the midst of a lockout that will likely freeze the market for months, but before Dec. 1, we had tons of action to a degree that no one expected. Over the course of about three weeks, teams handed out 51 MLB deals with guaranteed money totaling $1.974 billion. If you include extensions occurring in the 2021 calendar year, another $1.655 billion was spent, and nearly $1.1 billion of that went to five players: Byron Buxton, Wander Franco, Jose Berrios, Francisco Lindor and Fernando Tatis Jr. Let’s go on a journey of the lessons learned from this incredibly entertaining and active first part of the offseason.

The Mets went hard.
The 2021 season didn’t go that well for the New York Mets, who ended the season in third place in the National League East with 77 wins and watched the Atlanta Braves win the World Series. But since the clock turned to November, things have turned around. Robinson Cano‘s season-long suspension ended, Jacob deGrom should be healthy by the time the season starts, and they added Max Scherzer ($130 million guaranteed), Starling Marte ($78 million), Mark Canha ($26.5 million) and Eduardo Escobar ($20 million) in free agency. With these additions, FanGraphs’ depth charts now have the Mets in a dead heat with the best teams in baseball. The Mets, a team that posted 34.6 WAR in 2021, are projected to post 48.0 in 2022 — behind (and just slightly) only the Dodgers and Yankees.

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Buck O’Neil joins Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso, others in being elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame



Buck O’Neil, a champion of Black ballplayers during a monumental, eight-decade career on and off the field, joined Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso and three others in being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Former Minnesota Twins teammates Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, a longtime television analyst after his playing days, also were chosen along with Bud Fowler by a pair of veterans committees.

Oliva and Kaat are the only living new members. Dick Allen, who died last December, fell one vote shy of election.

Kaat pitched 25 seasons with a host of teams, including the Phillies, Yankees and Cardinals, winning 283 games. He served as an analyst for the Yankees before moving on to the MLB Network.

The 16-member Early Days and Golden Days committees met separately in Orlando, Florida. The election announcement was originally scheduled to coincide with the big league winter meetings, which were nixed because of the MLB lockout.

The six newcomers will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, on July 24, 2022, along with any new members elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. First-time candidates David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez join Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling on the ballot, with voting results on Jan. 25.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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