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AJ Hinch and Carlos Correa had breakfast together in Houston

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Yes the internet went nuts with speculation.

2019 ALCS Game 1 - New York Yankees v. Houston Astros Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

We’re very wary of rumors in general, but particularly this time of the year. On the one hand, it’s nice to be included again rather than ignored. It’s been a half decade since the Tigers had a lot of interesting rumors around them. On the other, there are a lot of desperate attempts to ascribe meaning to word choices, the faintest of gestures, and plenty of people looking to make a little name for themselves by pretending to have a source who told them something juicy. There are also plenty of players who enjoy messing with everyone and dropping hints.

However, when your team’s manager has lunch with the club’s number one free agent target, that is just news. Long-time Houston Astros shortstop, and premier free agent, Carlos Correa was spotted having a very long breakfast that stretched into lunch with his old friend, Tigers’ manager A.J. Hinch on Thursday in Houston.

Sure, they have a good relationship, and presumably Correa looks at Hinch as something of a mentor. As he awaits the birth of his first child, and prepares to make a career-defining decision, it’s easy to understand why he’d want the wise counsel of his old manager on myriad issues. They both live in Houston currently, after all. However, this is also without question A.J. Hinch on a recruiting trip.

The meet-up was confirmed by Jeff Passan, so no it isn’t an old picture. They also don’t appear to be trying hard to keep this a secret. There are plenty of places where they could hang out and eat for three or four hours where they could go unnoticed. Of course, Correa has no reason to keep a low profile about the level of pursuit he’s enjoying. As Passan notes, this isn’t some guarantee Correa is signing with the Tigers, but on the other hand, shut up, we need this!

Elsewhere, this led people to note that Correa appeared to have followed Akil Baddoo and Jeimer Candelario on Instagram recently as well. The hunt for signs and wonders was in full press at that point.

Let’s just remember that it’s no surprise that the two parties are in touch. The Tigers are obviously one of the main suitors for Correa, and it’s unlikely any team but the Astros has a better chance to land him. There are no doubt numerous other big-spenders in pursuit, but probably the one real takeaway from this is that the Tigers have a pretty good idea of the cost by now, and they’re still working on it. If you’re looking for a positive sign, that’s at least encouraging.

In considering the Tigers, Correa would be interested in hearing Hinch’s pitch, learning about his potential new teammates and the organization at large, including the hopes for Riley Greene and Spencer Torkeson and continued support from the development system. About the front office and ownership’s commitment to winning. He’d also likely want to chat with other key players on the team before making his final decision. We just have to keep in mind that all of it is due diligence in his position.

So, we’re not going to say this means we’re getting Correa. This is all just glimpses of the process right now. However, it is encouraging that Correa is still listening to the pitch, and that we’ve got A.J. Hinch to make the pitch. The Tigers need is pretty great, and as long as Correa is open to coming here, we’ll still be hoping he signs on.