Tigers manager AJ Hinch has brunch with free agent Carlos Correa in Houston

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — At about the same time Thursday that commissioner Rob Manfred was in Chicago at the Major League’s owner’s meetings telling reporters that a lockout seemed almost inevitable, Tigers manager AJ Hinch was at a diner in Houston having brunch with free agent shortstop Carlos Correa.

Welcome to the Hot Stove season.

The Tigers are in the hunt for shortstop Carlos Correa.

Signing Correa, who helped Hinch and the Astros win the 2017 World Series, is believed to be the Tigers’ main objective this offseason. So it is certainly no surprise that Hinch would reach out. It's probably not the first nor last time the two will talk.

But the two were captured on a cell phone camera speaking intently at a restaurant in Houston called Tiny Boxwoods. Social media was inflamed.

Earlier in the day, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, citing multiple sources close to the negotiations, said the feeling within the industry was the Tigers weren’t comfortable paying out in excess of $300 million for any free agent. But if that was true, there would be no reason for Hinch to continue recruiting Correa.

Correa, who is 27, is expected to command a contract worth at least $30 million annually and more than $300 million for the term.  

In Chicago, meanwhile, Manfred talked about the last work stoppage in Major League Baseball, the strike of 1994, and how it might have been prevented if owners at the time would’ve forced a lockout after that collective bargaining agreement expired.

"I don't think '94 worked out too great for anybody," Manfred told reporters. "I think we need to look at other sports. The pattern has become to control the timing of the labor dispute and try to minimize the prospect of actual disruption of the season. That's what it's about. It's avoiding doing damage to the season."

The current CBA will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1.

"We understand, I understand, that time is becoming an issue," Manfred said. "That's a challenge. We've had challenges with respect to making labor agreements before, and we got a pretty good track record of overcoming those challenges.

“I can tell you from the clubs' perspective, we're committed to continuing to offer proposals and suggestions in an effort to get to an agreement before December 1."


Twitter: @cmccosky