Our friend of the blog, Zanuda, suggested we take a look ahead at our Astros roster, and with the idea of milking this for all it is worth, this will the first of a three-part series looking at the Astros’ roster morphing through 2019, 2020 and 2021. Today we will look at what will and what may happen between now and the start of the 2019 season.
The following players could become free agents after this season:
- DH Evan Gattis
- Swiss Army Knife Marwin Gonzalez
- C Brian McCann (see option below)
- SP Charlie Morton
- SP Dallas Keuchel
- RP Tony Sipp
- RP Will Harris (see option below)
- The team has a $15 million option for 2019 on McCann that would have become his option if he had met certain performance requirements, which he will not meet.
- The team has a $5.5 million option that could increase by $1 million each if he reaches 15, 25 or 35 games finished in 2018. Since he only has 4 games finished to date – $5.5 million is the likely number.
The following players will face arbitration if they cannot come to some other agreement with the team:
Here is a shot at how the roster might look in 2019 and then a discussion…..
|POSITION||2018||2018 Salary||2019||2019 Salary|
|1B||YULI GURRIEL||$12.4 MM||YULI GURRIEL
|2B||JOSE ALTUVE||$9 MM||ALTUVE||$9.5 MM|
|SS||CARLOS CORREA||$1 MM||CORREA (ARB)||$8 MM|
|3B||ALEX BREGMAN||$600K||BREGMAN||$1 MM|
|C||BRIAN MCCANN||$11.5 MM*||MAX STASSI||$800 K|
|DH||EVAN GATTIS||$6.7 MM||EVAN GATTIS
|OF||JAKE MARISNICK||$1.9 MM||KYLE TUCKER||$560 K|
|OF||GEORGE SPRINGER||$12 MM||GEORGE SPRINGER||$12 MM|
|OF||JOSH REDDICK||$13 MM||REDDICK||$13 MM|
|SWISS ARMY KNIFE||MARWIN GONZALEZ||$5.1 MM||MARWIN GONZALEZ||$8 MM|
|BENCH||TONY KEMP||~$400 K||TONY KEMP||$560 K|
|BACKUP CATCHER||MAX STASSI||$560 K||GARRETT STUBBS||$560 K|
|SP||JUSTIN VERLANDER||$20 MM**||VERLANDER||$20 MM**|
|SP||GERRIT COLE||$6.8 MM||GERRIT COLE (ARB)||$12 MM|
|SP||LANCE MCCULLERS||$2.5 MM||LANCE MCCULLERS (ARB)||$6 MM|
|SP||CHARLIE MORTON||$7 MM||CHARLIE MORTON (FA)||$16 MM|
|SP||DALLAS KEUCHEL||$13.2 MM||COLLIN MCHUGH (ARB)||$8 MM|
|RP||HECTOR RONDON||$4 MM||HECTOR RONDON||$4.5 MM|
|RP||CHRIS DEVENSKI||$600 K||CHRIS DEVENSKI (ARB)||
|RP||KEN GILES||$4.6 MM||KEN GILES (ARB)||$6.5 MM|
|RP||JOE SMITH||$7 MM||JOE SMITH||$8 MM|
|RP||WILL HARRIS||$2.8 MM||WILL HARRIS||$5.5 MM|
|BRAD PEACOCK (ARB)||
|CIONEL PEREZ or other minor leaguer
|2018 TRADE DEADLINE PICKUP||
|MISC.||JON SINGLETON, DEREK FISHER, TYLER WHITE, ETC||
|$159.2 MM||2019 Total||$176 MM|
*Astros are paying McCann $11.5 MM for 2018 / Yanks are paying him for $5.5 MM for 2018 – There is a team option for 2019 at $15 MM that would have vested as a player option if he met requirements he can no longer reach.
** Astros are paying Verlander $20 MM for 2018 and 2019 / Tigers are paying him $8 MM for each year
There are so many dominoes here it can be laughable to do this exercise. What if Morton decides he really does want to retire? What if Gattis starts hitting a lot more like April and a lot less like May and June? What if they trade for more multiple years controlled relievers or a catcher between now and the start of 2019? What if someone they bring up from the minors does not look like a deer in the headlights and sticks? The items shown in dark italics are speculation or guesstimation – but highlight the spots where decisions have to be made and money applied or withheld.
- McCann. hard to picture any scenario other than McCann taking a deep pay cut that will bring him back. Love the guy, but a catcher who will be 35 and has been battling knee problems? It is probably time.
- Keuchel. If you had to throw money at a pitcher in his 30’s who has been losing velocity and struggling with his control or an older version (Morton) who has had a Renaissance in velocity and success, who would you try to keep? Uh-huh.
- Sipp. Tony is a likely trade deadline trade piece. By then he will only be owed $2 million more on the year and if he is still pitching top notch could be an attractive lefty rental for another team.
- Marisnick. I know they love the guy, but are they going to love him after he gets $3 million in arbitration?
Looking to Keep
- Morton. If they could convince Morton to come back for a couple years (based on him maybe thinking of retiring) they would love to get him for 2 years / $32 million. This would mean he could help with getting past Keuchel leaving before the 2019 season and Cole and Verlander likely leaving before the 2020 season.
- Gonzalez. Marwin’s down 2018 may help in keeping his price down and bringing him back. How about 3 years and $24 million? He may never have another season like 2017, but there are just no players as flexible as he is as a switch hitter and the ability to play all infield spots and most of the outfield well.
- Gattis. Evan has 56 RBIs in 76 games, which is the equivalent of 119 RBIs over a whole season. Unless he falls off a cliff, they are going to want to keep the best DH they have ever had. He does give them an emergency catcher, but in general his lack of flexibility in the field should keep his price down – how about 3 years / $27 million?
On the Cusp
- This version shows the Astros picking up the $5.5 million option on Will Harris for 2019. Based on what he has done the first half of 2018, that might be a stretch, but this decision may well be made based on his whole piece of work with the Astros, his performance in the second half of 2018 and who if anyone the Astros can pick up to fill in the bullpen at the trade deadline or in the off-season.
- It is hard to see the Astros sticking with Ken Giles through arbitration, which could end up as a $6.5 million or more salary in 2019, if he cannot return to a late and close role, whether it is closer or set-up. But they may think he just needs to be tweaked to return to the guy who saved 34 of 38 in 2017.
- The Astros will go with Stassi as the starting catcher and use Garrett Stubbs as his back-up. If Stubbs is not ready they may go with a Tim Federowicz or similar career back-up until he is.
- The Astros for 2019 will need to fill in behind Keuchel. This could be either McHugh or Peacock. McHugh has more starting experience, so that is why he is given the nod here. However, if they don’t want to have to replace McHugh after 2019 (along with possibly Verlander and Cole), they might keep him in the ‘pen and promote Peacock. If Morton leaves, both may jump into the rotation, but don’t be surprised to see one jump and one young buck fill the other starting spot.
- They will need to give some young pitchers (relievers and starters) real major league experience between September 2018 and the end of 2019 to prepare for a possible exodus heading into 2020. Youngsters like Cionel Perez, Forrest Whitley, Cy Sneed, Trent Thornton, Rogelio Armenteros, Josh James and the Monty Python character Brock Dykxhoorn may all be auditioning for the big club over the next year and a half.
Folks, what do you think this team will look like heading into 2019?