So the Astros suddenly have a crowded infield. With real possibilities. Sometime next month, Houston will likely have as strong as an infield in a decade. Or longer.
Problem is, where will they play? When Yulieski Guriel and Alex Bregman join the team, manager A.J. Hinch will essentially have four players who can play the middle infield. Two of those will obviously need to play the corners, someone will have to go or one could serve as DH. Or one of the four could move to help shore up what may be a depleted outfield after this winter.
Obviously, Luhnow plans to have Guriel around for awhile after signing a five-year contract. Altuve is signed to a team-friendly contract through 2020, though Altuve’s recent switch to agent Scott Boras should mean and, ummm, healthy contract for the then-30-year-old second baseman.
Bregman and Correa should be part of the core of the Astros for the next decade plus some.
Remember that bottle neck of salaries we projected for later this decade? Well, Luhnow has played his cards right, at least for now. As the organization passed the $100 million line with the Guriel signing, the 2017 budget is actually fairly clean.
Scott Feldman, Carlos Gomez, Colby Rasmus, Doug Fister, Jason Castro, Luis Valbuena will be free agents if they aren’t traded in the next few weeks. That will make room for upgrades to the salaries of Dallas Keuchel, George Springer, Collin McHugh and others through arbitration or extensions.
Luhnow is slowly putting together his core. And adding to it.
The big question is: Who will still be here in 2017? You know, for that Sports Illustraded-predicted World Series championships? Here’s a quick look, though clearly not comprehensive.
These guys will still be here. Guaranteed.
Gone, but not forgotten.
- Gomez, Rasmus, Valbuena, Castro.
On the bubble. Salary or other questions may for the Astros’ hand.
The big question. Will these players perform well enough to be a factor on a competitive team? Perhaps, but Houston may be stuck with some due to salary constraints.
A few Monday morning questions to get your week started.
- What should Hinch do with Altuve, Guriel, Correa and Bregman?
- Should the Astros bring back Valbuena?
- If you were to trade one of them for a haul or TOR pitcher, who goes: Altuve, Guriel, Correa or Bregman?
- What’s the biggest hole facing Luhnow for the rest of 2016 and/or 2017?
- Most likely to succeed at the major league level: Reed, Moran, Preston Tucker or Tony Kemp?