Remember when fans and media talked of Astros’ moves as just shuffling chairs on the Titanic? Not anymore! Now, other teams like the Red Sox, Indians and Rangers are looking on in disbelief as the World Champion team has arguably improved in the offseason after its best season in history.
But are the Houston Astros done? Will Jeff Luhnow strike another move to boldly put a stamp on 2018 before the season even begins? Is there really anywhere the team can still make significant improvement?
As many of you have noted, the winter off-season is slow when you consider the number of free agents still on the market, teams looking for pitching and other teams rumored to be trying to trade pieces. There is still action to come. The only question for south Texas fans is will that action involve the Astros?
Here are a few questions to help stoke your conversation.
Could a Yu Darvish still actually fall in the Astros’ lap?
Yeah, this one seems like a long shot after adding Gerrit Cole. But imagine a rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Cole, Charlie Morton…and Darvish. Some teams would just cry “uncle” and say let’s skip on to 2019! Certainly, Darvish’s asking price appears to be dropping significantly and if it does drop into the $80 million range, why not complete the assembly of a Dream Rotation?
Many fans lamented the original Santana trade that brought Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez to Houston in 2015. Now, he may be available in an overstocked Brewers’ outfield. You could see Santana in an Astros’ lineup in various ways: DH, left field, right field. That would keep both Evan Gattis and Brian McCann healthy and rested and provide some crazy depth in the outfield. And he’s under team control through 2021. Whether it’s Santana or someone else, McHugh does seem to be on the bubble and available, at least as far as the roster shapes up.
Free agent acquisition more your taste? Maybe Jonathan Lucroy?
There are still a bevy of free agent choices on the board. One mentioned earlier in the off-season is a catching possibility. The right-handed hitting Lucroy would augment the lefty McCann and be a powerful 1-2 punch behind the plate. Plus, it could provide the backup plan for when McCann leaves in free agency after this season. Lucroy would relish playing in Houston since he’s a Ragin’ Cajun, playing on some of the best UL-Lafayette teams. Jose Abreu, Manny Machado, Jed Lowrie and J. T. Realmuto have also been rumored to be on the move at one time or another since the season ended. See any other possibilities on the list above?
Oh, and notice that rumors are that J.D. Martinez could be available for only 5 years/$100 million. Yes, it would be nice to have him back in left field or at DH.
Other questions for your consideration:
- The luxury tax threshold for 2018 is $197 million. With a payroll that could easily jump to $170 million this season, how long will it be before Houston becomes the next team with a tax bill?
- Who is more likely to be traded now: Brad Peacock or Collin McHugh?
- The team now has three pitchers who have been opening day starters. Who should get the nod to start opening day 2018: Verlander, Keuchel or Cole?
- Only four (count ’em 4) of the opening day, non-pitching starters from 2015 are still with the team. Can you name them? Better yet, without looking, can you name the other five? (NOTE: Only ONE opening day starter from 2014 is still with the team. ONE!)