MLB lockout hampers Carlos Correa’s huge salary

And now we wait.

For Rob Manfred, Tony Clark, billionaires and multi-millionaires to find common ground.

For Major League Baseball to hopefully get its act together in time for the scheduled start of Opening Day.

The 2022 Astros are scheduled to play their first spring training game on Feb. 26, then open their true 162-game season on March 31 against Philadelphia inside Minute Maid Park.

If those two events are ultimately untouched by this lockdown, MLB’s first work stoppage in 26 years will fade from history as Houston returns to regularly hitting 95 degrees.

Baseball, as always, will continue. The stadiums will be full – unless 2021-22 somehow turns into 1994-95. Manfred will always be widely seen as a villain across the country, while the little-seen Clark will also fade into the background.

Speaking of erasing… this city’s daily, Carlos Correa Watch, has officially gone on hiatus.

Corey Seager and Marcus Semien were (over?) paid by Rangers before all contract negotiations ceased between the 30 MLB clubs, agents and players. All in all, baseball went crazy in the days leading up to the lockdown, handing out ridiculous new guaranteed offers, knowing the sport was days away from entering a hard freeze.

The Houston Chronicle’s Jerome Solomon, Brian T. Smith and Chandler Rome discuss the Astros’ 2021 season, Dusty Baker’s return and major offseason issues. Video: Houston Chronicle

Correa’s future is still there, somewhere. To be determined. It remains to be debated. Unknown and unstable. And while we wait for baseball to do simple, normal things again, we also wait for someone else to very likely pay Correa more than Seager (10 years, $325 million) just received.

The Phillies didn’t sign Bryce Harper to a whopping 13-year, $330 million contract until March 1, 2019. That extended delay is part of the reason MLB is where MLB is right now.

NFL superstars are instantly inked, often before free agency “officially” begins. Ditto for the biggest names in the NBA. But baseball isn’t just absurdly slow on the pitch two decades into a new century. MLB’s free agent system has been pervasive for years, and baseball’s biggest free agent watch this city has seen since 2004 has now come to a halt.

Correa, obviously, will be fine. He could have already signed if he wanted to. That lockout could be turned into another financial advantage for a 27-year-old shortstop who is worth on the open market at least double what the Astros have offered.

It feels like we’ve been discussing Correa’s TBD future and 2021 free agency for a year…because we did. Now, Correa Watch has about a 98% chance of extending into 2022 and could extend into Spring Training, whenever Spring Training begins.

Correa can’t sign MLB’s next monster guaranteed contract until MLB ends its lockdown.

Which means, in a way, Correa still hasn’t said he won’t be returning to the Astros in 2022.

Neal T. Doss