Lance McCullers isn’t sure the Astros want to keep him

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Lance McCullers wants to sign a contract extension with the Astros, but he’s not sure the team feels the same.

After missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers had a solid return in 2020 (3.93 ERA, 9.2 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 over 11 starts-55 innings). A strong finish, with no earned runs allowed, 24 strikeouts and four walks over his last three starts (17.2 innings) is a good sign heading into 2021.

Ahead of the Astros’ Grapefruit League opener on Sunday, McCullers talked openly about wanting a contract extension with the Astros and the regard he holds himself in.

“Big-league pitching — legitimate, starting, big-league pitching — does not grow on trees,” McCullers said Sunday while discussing a potential extension, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. “And I’m a legitimate big-league starter, and I’ve worked really hard to get to this point.”

McCullers agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million with the Astros in January to avoid arbitration. He’s set to become a free agent after the coming season.

Lance McCullers doesn’t know if the Astros want him around long-term

McCullers said he has let his agent, Scott Boras, know he’s open to an extension with the Astros. He’d also said he’d prefer it be done before the start of the season, but there are no negotiations going on right now.

McCullers was drafted by the Astros in 2012 (first round, 41st overall). He earned an All-Star selection in 2016, helping them win the World Series. For his career he’s got a 3.70 ERA (3.29 FIP) with a 10.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. He has also never thrown 130 innings in a normal season, as elbow issues had bothered him off and on and he finally had Tommy John in 2018 after blowing out his elbow.

So time will tell if McCullers gets his wish of a new deal with the Astros, and if he gets a deal  that’s commensurate with his abilities (or at least his perception of his abilities).

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