Offseason review: Houston Astros

The Astros didn’t make many notable outdoor additions during the winter. They rely on an excellent inner core for another World Championship run, counting on the high probability of them entering the major leagues to replace one of the game’s best players.

Major League Contracts

2022 spending: $35.1 million
Total spending: $44.1 million

choice decisions

Trade and Claims

Accessories

  • RHP . signature Ryan Pressley $30 million two-year extension (deal also has an option to vest in 2025 based on impressions)

Notable signings in the minor league

Noticeable losses

The Astros entered the post-season after a disappointing finish to the World Championships, where they were dropped in six games against the Braves. Given that Houston is back for the Fall Classic – their fifth consecutive season progressing at least into the AL Championship Series – it makes sense that they tried to maintain as much continuity as possible.

In general, this has been proven to be the case. The Astros didn’t do much to bring in talent from outside the organization, though they ended up not bringing back everyone who was instrumental in their recent success. This was evident in the players who lost to free agency, but the first notable departure of the team was one of the members of the coaching staff. Brent Strom, a longtime shooting coach — generally regarded as one of the best in the game due to Houston’s never-ending stability of quality guns — stepped down shortly after the World Championships. Eventually he would take the same position with the Diamondbacks.

Houston promoted two of Strom’s assistants, Josh Miller and Bill Murphy, to take over as joint coach. The rest of the staff remain mostly unchanged, and for the third consecutive season, they will be led by veteran captain Dusty Baker. Houston signed Baker for a one-year contract extension in November. It was a bit surprising to see such a short-term commitment given how adept Baker has been at taking the reins since replacing AJ Hinch in the midst of the signal-stealing fallout. Either way, the three-time General Manager winner returns and will soon become the 12th person in MLB history to achieve 2,000 career wins.

Baker’s term extension seemed like a fairly easy call to the front office, but they may have made less time for their next marital decisions. Exercising an $8 million option on Yuli Gouriel He was not thinking after winning the batting title in 2021. So was the delivery Carlos Correa Qualified offer There may have been more controversy over whether QO . should Justin Verlanderconsidering he’s basically missed the last two seasons recovering from Tommy John’s surgery.

In the end, Verlander looked as though he would receive and reject QO, especially after Houston owner Jim Crane noted in September that Verlander was seeking a multi-year deal. QO’s $18.4 million price tag would still have been a bargain if the eight-time All-Star picked where he left off on his comeback, as he scored a 2.58 ERA in the top 223 league tour of 2019. The Astros have been looking at anyone in Verlander form throughout their run. his recovery, and sounded optimistic about his chances of returning to the top of the cycle.

Verlander QO declined as expected, but this was no precursor to leaving the agent for free. Less than an hour after that decision was announced, he and his team agreed to a $25 million deal to keep him in Houston in 2022. This wasn’t technically the multi-year deal that Crane indicated Verlander was seeking, but he could give $25 million dollar. Player option for next season if he reaches 130 rounds this year. If he stays healthy, Verlander should easily beat that mark and achieve some extra financial security while still having the option of exploring a free dealership next winter. The entitlement option provides cover for the team in case they suffer a setback due to injury. (By two starts, Verlander looked like his old self, averaging 95 mph north in fastball with 15 strokes, and three turns in 13 runs.)

With Verlander’s return, the Astros have cemented their core squad that must once again be among the top teams in the league. Framber ValdezAnd Luis Garcia And Jose Urquidi They each exceeded 100 innings with an ERA of 3.62 or less last season. veteran Jake Odorese It gives them an experienced option in the back of the spin. Lance McCullers Jr. He will miss the first two months of the year after recovering from a postseason flexor tendon strain that lasted longer than expected. If he returns for the extended tour and last year’s games, Houston should have a very strong best six arms.

Astros didn’t lose Zack Greenk For free agency, subtract some stability and roles from the group. Grienke is no longer a pro, but he absorbed nearly 171 shots last season over 30 appearances. This is a value, but between the return of Verlander and the presence of Odorizzi and swingman Christian XavierThe Astros felt equipped to conquer it.

At the moment, Javier is in the mall, where he spent the greater part of last season. The right-handed started his first nine runs in 2021, but was eventually knocked out of the spin. Javier’s control fluctuated, but he pulled off 30.7% of opposing hitters on his way to a 3.55 ERA in 101 1/3 of innings. Whether it eventually returns to rotation or settles down as a group relief option, it adds another exciting multi-role arm to the mix.

Keeping Javier at ease strengthens the list’s relative weakness. The Bullpen Astros were in the middle of the group last year. It certainly wasn’t disastrous, but it’s the least exceptional part of the club. Choose the club Kendall Grafman In a deadline agreement with the band’s rival Mariners, he signed a three-year contract with the White Sox this winter. Not coincidentally, Bullpen is the only area in which the team has made a notable investment in bringing in a player from abroad.

Houston signed the closest former Phillies Hector Neres Two-year warranty, $17 million. The right-hander has had an inconsistent stint in Philadelphia, but has been generally effective and having a nice season. He cheered 31.6% of opposing hitters and hits freshers by 47.1% in the last year. Nor has he had particularly noticeable platoon divisions throughout his career. Neris was better against opponents of the same hand (.208/.272/.373), but he also managed a solid production against Southpaws (.231/.324/.387).

This is of particular significance to the Houston team who lost a left-handed Brooks Raleigh for free agency. Blake Taylor upward Parker Muczynski They are the only left-handers in Becker’s late inning mix. Houston signed veterans Zach Roskup And Adam Morgan For minor league deals as insurance, but it’s not a whole lot of sootbawes in general. With an oath like Neris, Ren Stanek And Phil Mattoon Having had success against leftists in the past, General Manager James Click and his crew chose not to invest in another left arm.

These players will all close the gap to the All-Star closer Ryan Pressley, which has been one of the top late sporting weapons over the past four years. The Astros rewarded him for this streak of success with an extension of spring training that guarantees $30 million through 2024 and prevents him from making it to the open market at the end of this season, when his contract was already expiring. The deal, which also contains a 2025 maturity option, holds a key piece throughout the next few years, during which the team must remain competitive.

This is a testament to the strength of Houston’s young start and their overall distinction in the squad. Click and his team didn’t have to make many changes to the center player group. Martin Maldonado And Jason Castro They came back as a later tandem, freeing Houston from the third catcher’s deal Garrett Stubbs For Phyllis in a minor trade. This isn’t a great offensive duo, but both veteran defenders are highly regarded.

The Astros can withstand lackluster hits behind the plate due to the strength of the squad elsewhere. Gurriel is back at first base, Jose Altove is the cornerstone, and Alex Bergman In the third rule. Michael Brantley And Kyle Tucker Make one of the top corner pairs in the game. Jordan Alvarez It can spin in the outer corner while still mashing like a designated hitter. The Astros don’t have household names in the center field, but even there, they’re in a good position.

Chas McCormickAnd Jose Seri And Jake Myers All of them put up strong debutantes last year, and did well enough that Houston felt comfortable handling it. Miles Str To Cleveland on deadline to bring Mattoon. None of McCormick, Cerry or Myers (the latter of whom is currently on the list of injured after undergoing shoulder surgery) would rule out the Astros from landing a star. Houston inquired about Brian Reynolds Base is reportedly touched with Starling Mart Camp in free agency. A center field, though, isn’t much of a need, and the Astros felt comfortable entering the season with their in-house options after not landing a rectangular name.

This, of course, brings us to the one point on the diamond where the Astros faced their biggest decision: whether to return Correa on a huge free deal. At the start of the season, Houston made the short-lived star a five-year bid of $160 million. He never seemed likely to catch Correa’s attention, and it looked as if he was going to end up leaving . However, Korea’s survival in the open market unexpectedly continued, with a mid-shutdown agency switching to the Boras Corporation possibly contributing to the delay in signing the free agency’s top player.

Once the lockdown was lifted and spring training began, Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal mentioned The Astros are set to make a new show Correa. That led to some speculation about the possibility of the All-Star twice returning to Houston after all, but that proved to be untrue. Correa eventually signed a three-year, $105.3 million cancellation deal with the twins. It wasn’t the long-term commitment most of the 27-year-old expected, but he did get the second-largest average annual salary for a player in MLB history and the chance to test the market again next winter.

It wasn’t clear exactly what the Astros eventually put on the table, though Scott Borras told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that Houston won’t be over five years old. By the time Correa agreed terms with Minnesota, Cory SeegerAnd Marcus seeds And Javier Baez It may have occurred a long time ago elsewhere. leave it Trevor’s story As the only remaining free agent.

The Astros have been linked to Story all winter, and re-engaged with his camp late in the process. Sherman chirp That Houston and the Giants were among the three finalists for the former Rockies star, but he eventually made it to Boston on a six-year deal. Once Storey signed his $140 million deal with the Red Sox, it became clear that there was a huge possibility Jeremy Pena He was going to take over in Houston.

Peña started 11 of the team’s first 12 games in position. A talented defender, he entered the season just 30 games behind the A-ball after missing most of last year from the injured list. Peña was fantastic in his first two weeks in the majors and the Astros would obviously love him if he took the job and worked with her. Houston has its first bat veteran Edmis Diaz In hand, they also signed Tigers’ former utility worker Nico Goodrem into a one-year deal to add depth at multiple points around the diamond. Detroit Goddrum is without bids after a second poor offensive season in a row, but he was a capable player on both sides of the ball in 2018-19 and made a fine addition to the bench.

The loss of Korea is undoubtedly a blow, and the Astros may face tougher competition from sailors and angels this year than they have in recent seasons. However, their star’s brief departure won’t be enough to knock Houston out of the AL favorites, especially if Peña can step in directly as an above-average player in his own right. The Astros haven’t made many big additions in the last season, but they didn’t need to. The bulk of the group that led five straight playoff rounds is still there, and the window is still wide open for Houston to make another World Championship tour.

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