Taking a look at the Astros’ pitching future


If there is a complaint about the current Astros front office that does have a ring of truth to it – it has been the “failure” to develop major league pitching from scratch, starting or bullpen.  They have drafted and developed Lance McCullers Jr.as a starter and he has been very good except for the chunks of seasons he has spent in dry dock. Will Harris, Collin McHugh and Tony Sipp all were picked up after being released elsewhere. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski, Joe Musgrove, Mike Fiers, Ken Giles, Roberto Osuna,  and Ryan Pressly were all obtained by trades. Luke Gregerson, Hector Rondon, Joe Smith and now Wade Miley were all signed as Free Agents. Dallas Keuchel? He was legacy from the previous administration. There have been some appearances of in-house developed talent like Francis Martes (out with TJ surgery) or Michael Feliz, but very sparse cameos mostly.

Some of the reasons for the sparseness was covered in this June 2018 post. Hard to turn pitchers into major leaguers when you are trading them for major leaguers.

However,  2018 brought possibly the first hint of a changing of the guard and it could not come too soon. Here is what the pitching free agent future looks like for the Astros:

  • After 2018 season, Keuchel and Morton leave (OK Keuchel is not officially gone yet)
  • After 2019 season, Verlander, Cole, McHugh, Wiley, Harris, Pressly, Rondon, and Smith are all FAs
  • After 2020 season, Peacock
  • After 2021, McCullers and Osuna

People can think the front office will extend a Verlander or Cole – probably not (JV more likely than Cole it seems). People can think the front office will re-sign a bunch of guys – not too likely for the guys they really want.

But what has to happen is that the Astros need to start filling in spots from within and luckily they are in better shape with that than in a long time. A look at mlb.com’s listing of the Astros top 30 prospects includes 14 of those 30 as pitchers, but more importantly, 10 of the top 14 are shown as pitchers, and those will be the focus of this post.

  • Forrest Whitley. He is shown as the #2 prospect behind Kyle Tucker on this list, however, most lists (and likely the Astros front office) have him as #1. He is the top-ranked pitching prospect in all of baseball according to mlb.com (Jonathan Mayo) and was a former 17th overall pick in 2016. He was set-back by his non-PED suspension and injuries in 2018 and with only about 80 innings between extended spring training, AA and Arizona Fall League it is hard to figure how many innings he will be allowed to pitch in 2019.

Prognosis. Likely late-season call-up from AAA but will he be put in the pen to keep his innings down?

  • Josh James. (#4 Prospect) A lot of times the 34th overall pick never makes it to the majors, but in this case, a 34th rounder in 2014 has already pitched and pitched well at the end of 2018 (2-0, 2.35 ERA, 11.3 K/9 IP). It helps that he was diagnosed with sleep apnea and suddenly his fastball hopped up to 100 mph in the minors. The Astros should be ordering CPAP machines by the gross.

Prognosis. After his jump from AA thru AAA to the majors last season he is the odds on favorite to start the season as the Astros #5 starter.

  • Cionel Perez. (#5 Prospect) The young lefty out of Cuba has pitched at all levels between A ball and the majors in his 2 seasons with the organization. He found a great groove at AA Corpus in 2018 with a 6-1 record, 1.98 ERA, and 10.9 K / 9 IP in 11 starts and 16 games. He had a decent cup of coffee with the Astros though his control was a bit of a question.

Prognosis. They may want him to get more than the 5 innings of pitching at AAA he had last year for seasoning. Or he could be battling #12 Prospect for a lefty spot in the Astros bullpen.

  • Corbin Martin. (#6 Prospect) – The local kid and 2nd round pick in 2017 has been a silver streak in racing from rookie ball to more than a half year at AA in just 1-1/2 seasons with the ‘Stros. So far in 154 minor league innings, he has a 9-3 record, 2.44 ERA, 0.983 WHIP and 9.6 K / 9 IP.

Prognosis. Similar numbers at AAA this season should earn him a call-up and have him lined up for a shot at the 2020 rotation.

  • J.B. Bukauskas. (#8 Prospect) – The overall #15 pick of the 2017 draft, he had a short stint in 2017 after signing, and then missed a big chunk of 2018 after a car accident and injury. He pitched best in 28 innings at A+ Buies Creek (3-0, 1.61 ERA) and then showed well in the Arizona Fall League.

Prognosis. Expect to see him at AAA Round Rock this season and from there he is just an injury call-up away from the majors.

  • Bryan Abreu. (#10 Prospect) – Signed as a teen out of the Dominican, he played mostly at rookie ball until rocking and rolling through A and A+ ball in 2018 right on to the 40 man roster (protected from the Rule 5 draft). In 2018 he was electric putting up a 6-1 record in 54 innings with a 1.49 ERA, 1.031 WHIP and 14.9 K/9 IP.

Prognosis. Obviously a little ways away, but if he continues to show his stuff at AA and AAA over the next two seasons he may be showing it at Minute Maid pretty soon.

  • Jairo Solis. (#11 Prospect) – A youngster signed out of the Dominican, some may scoff at his 2-5 record, 3.55 ERA and 1.599 WHIP at A ball Quad Cities in 2018. But he was only 18 y.o. almost 4 years younger than the average player at that level.

Prognosis. Way too early to project this kid, but when you get placed above another prospect, who has already pitched in the majors that is saying something.

  • Framber Valdez. (#12 Prospect) – That other prospect was Valdez, another young man out of the Dominican. He has snaked his way slowly up the organization since 2015, sometimes helped by the fact he seemed to be the only lefty doing anything positive on the farm. He got a shot to help out late in the season and he showed a ball that has crazy movement, problems with control, but also the propensity to not give up hits.

Prognosis. If they want him to be a starter he will likely be working on his control issues at AAA. If they want him to be a lefty out of the ‘pen he may break camp with the big club.

  • Rogelio Armenteros. (#13 Prospect) – He is one of the most accomplished minor league pitchers in the system with a sterling 29-13 record and 3.18 ERA over 430 innings since being signed out of Cuba. He had bookmark 8-1 records at Fresno in 2017 and 2018, though a much higher ERA (3.74 up from 2.16), which likely signals he was working on another pitch in 2018.

Prognosis. He’s a hard one to figure. Is he one of those AAAA guys who will never quite climb over the top or will he be one of the pitchers they are hoping to help them reach a soft landing in 2020 from their free agent losses?

  • Cristian Javier. (#14 Prospect) – A 2015 signee out of the Dominican, he has been steady Eddie rising up the ranks with one good performance after another. At 21 he spent 2018 at A and A+ ball putting up good numbers (7-6, 2.70 ERA, 1.109 WHIP, 11.9 K / 9 IP).

Prognosis. Likely three years away, but another name to watch.

Others. #18 Prospect Dean Deetz may have a shot at a bullpen spot out of Spring Training. #19 Prospect Brandon Bielak has been terrific after getting drafted in the 11th round in 2017. #26 Prospect Tyler Ives struggled as a 3rd rounder in 2017, but picked up the pace with a strong 2018. #27 Prospect Peter Solomon – the 4th rounder only pitched one game in 2017, but made up for it with a very good 2018 at A and A+ ball.

And don’t forget former #1 prospect Francis Martes, who may need to ask for a mulligan after getting hurt in 2017 and having TJ surgery. He may be bypassed when he returns in 2019.

So whatcha think of the team’s pitching future?

 

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63 comments on “Taking a look at the Astros’ pitching future

  1. Thanks Dan, for your thoughts on these prospects. I intend to catch a couple of Spring games in West Palm and hope to see some of these kids. We have a log jam in the upper minors with a few players like Reed, but I hope that these pitchers stay in the Astros system and traded.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Lets start at the top.
    The Astros want Josh James to win the fifth spot in the rotation and get his feet firmly on MLB ground this season so that he can be counted on to take over a permanent role in their rotation for years. He is a big guy with a big arm they crave.
    The Astros want Forrest Whitley to continue his dominance of the minors and get stretched out so that he can be counted on to win a job in the rotation in 2020.He is a big guy with a big arm they crave.
    The Astros love Corbin Martin, as do the scouts. Martin is also big with a matching arm and three plus pitches and a developing changeup that he will try to master this year. I think the Astros will try and groom him to possibly win a rotation job for 2020, but may let him stay in AAA to start the 2020 season.
    A lot of guys see Cionel Perez coming out of the bullpen for his career, but I believe that Strom, Verlander and Cole put a bug in his ear to build up his lower body and try to turn himself into a starting left hander. It will take some time for Perez to go from a slender guy with a big arm, to a power pitcher with a big arm and a not-so-big body. If he can transition to a heavier type stride to ease up on his arm he could win a starting rotation job in 2020. He will have to combine added muscle and added command to pull this off, but he is a good athlete, so he has that going for him.
    More coming.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Like most of you I’ve only snippets of some of these youngsters pitching. I did get to here Astroline interviews with Whitley and James where they sounded like nice, polite young men.
    One thing stuck out to me about James. They were asking if he was into any of these on-line games or such in his off time. No he liked to fish. Sounds like an old pro kind of guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I expect Frances Martes to, at least, compete for a bullpen spot in 2020. It’s hard to believe that he will only have turned 24 by then, but he has lost two years in his quest to be a starter and I think he will end up being a reliever.
    Jairo Solis had TJ surgery in August, so he also has lost a full year.
    JB Bukauskas was rumored to be in the aborted deal for Bryce Harper last July, but the Astros might be thankful that deal fell through after seeing him perform brilliantly against San Antonio in his only two AA appearances to end the year. I know the Astros want him to keep working as a starter, but I will not be surprised to see him closing for the Astros in the future.
    Bryan Abreu is now on the 40-man roster and hasn’t made it to High A ball yet. So, I expect the Astros to start to fast track him through the system. A guy in his situation can’t continue to be optioned, so I see him arriving late in 2020 or spring 2021. He also could end up being a closer with his top two pitches being so awesome.
    Bielak and Solomon have time. They have grown so much as starting pitchers in the Astros farm system that they really have a shot at being starters in the majors. two more years being spent trying to find their best four pitches really sets them up to be moving to the majors by 2021. Solomon has the better fastball, and that might make a difference between starting and relieving.
    Where does Framber end up? My heart says as a BOR starter and my head tells me in the bullpen, not just as a loogy but a regular arm there.
    Don’t sleep on Tyler Ivey! The guy could move up fast like Martin did this past season. He is the guy who could turn out to be a better pitcher than his stuff indicates. Like a pitcher that has batters shaking their heads as they go back to the dugout thinking they should have hit that guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Additional notes on this current subject of our pitching future:
    *The only clues leading to the club’s ideas on Rogelio is his being added to the 40-man roster. That tells us he is considered an asset.
    *I always considered LMJ to be a candidate for an extension. His injury makes the window for that to happen a little smaller. If he recovers fully from TJS I would hope that he can be pitching for the Astros for years.
    *Christian Javier is one prospect that might run into future trouble. He did not dominate in High A like he did in the lower minors and is not adept at getting ground balls. He has a lot of work left to do.
    * Jason Schroeder is not necessarily a sleeper, but he is my sleeper. I think he could turn out to be a really good starting pitcher in a few years.
    *I’m interested in seeing what Chad Donato does in 2019.

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  6. Remember all that stuff about what teams are doing with technology in their own ballparks? Let there be no doubt where our Astros are in this following saga. I’m positive that the Astros have Trackman installed in their minor league parks, too.
    In this link I believe we learn how far our team is going to learn everything they can at all levels of amateur baseball and I am willing to bet they are at the forefront of what this next article is talking about. If you don’t read many articles about baseball, let this one be one of them:
    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/junior-colleges-have-become-scoutings-most-active-battleground/.

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  7. It would be great to see an excellent pitching staff made up with a batch of in house guys in the next couple of years. If half the staff came from our system, it sure would help keep the payroll manageable.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I remember when the Astros were regularly turning out their own, home-grown pitchers. I feel the change began in 1980 when the Doctor signed Nolan Ryan. Shortly afterwards, J.R. Richard had his stroke, Ken Forsch, Joe Sambito, and Dave Smith were the Houston grown names. When the club moved to the current park they began to turn back to home-grown staff. Oswalt, Wagner, Wade Miller, Shane Reynolds, Brad Lidge. Then McLane decided to go the free agent route. Hopefully, we are entering a return to the golden age of home-grown pitching, sprinkled with good to great free-agent pickups.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Dean Deetz, Josh James, Abraham Toro and Juan Paulino are all drafted by Houston out of the Oklahoma JUCO System. I would not bet against the Astros having a Trackman scouting system somewhere up here in Oklahoma to help them track potential prospects playing here and visiting here. I do know they have a great scout working this area.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. From looking at his stats, Cionel Perez looks like a prime candidate for “opener.” He just doesn’t pitch well in a long set of innings. That was what we saw when he melted down after a couple innings. It shows him at 170 but he must have been weighed with a large rock in each hand.

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  11. I want to point out the difference between the pitching prospects we had in the Astros system in 2015, when we had a highly rated system. Compare these pitching prospects we had where almost none of them had four pitches and almost none of them had multiple pitches rated average or above. Our top-rated pitching prospect from then is now struggling in the bullpen in Pittsburg. http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015/#list=hou
    Compare those grades on their pitches to the grades on our current crop of pitching prospects. For example, our current #26 and #27 ranked prospects are two pitchers who have four pitches each that grade at average or better.
    It is incredible how much better the Astros are at scouting, acquiring and developing pitchers.
    Remember that the same guys who were grading Astros pitching prospects for MLB.com back then are still doing it today, though they too have much more info to go on.

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  12. Here’s a handy Master List to keep an eye out. This way you can see a Josh James coming ahead of time. These predictions are close enough as we head into 2019.

    AAA:
    C: Stubbs, Ritchie
    IF: Reed, Rojas, De Goti, Tanielu, Mayfield, Jones
    OF: Tucker, Straw, Fisher, Alvarez, Goetzman
    SP: Whitley, Martin, Armenteros, Rodgers, C Perez
    RP: Sneed, Bostick, Emanuel, Guduan, Deetz, TBD waiver claim x2
    Inactive/DL/Released: Quintana, McCurry, Nunez, J Ferrell, Garza, Martes, Winkelman

    AA:
    C: Robinson, Flores
    IF: Adams, Birk, A Sierra, Toro, Duarte
    OF: Wrenn, Dawson, Matijevic, Benedetti, De La Cruz, McCormick
    SP: Bukauskas, Bielak, Bailey, Ivey, Adcock, J Hernandez, LaRue, Hartman
    RP: Scheetz, C Sierra, N Hernandez, Pinales
    Inactive/DL/Released: Canelon, Saldana, G Valdez, Feldmann, McKee, Y Ramirez, Blanco

    High A:
    C: Manea, Papierski
    IF: Schreiber, M Sierra, Arauz, Shaver, Angarita, Hensley
    OF: Julks, Meyers, Beer, LaCroix, A Pineda
    SP: Solomon, Javier, B Abreu, Donato, Mushinski, L Rodriguez, L Garcia, Castellanos
    RP: Hiraldo, Sanabria, Paredes, DeJuneas
    Inactive/DL/Released: Castro, Collado, E Sandoval, Duncan, Rosado, H Paulino, J Solis

    A:
    C: Salazar, Holderbach
    IF: Encarnacion, Dennis, J Pena, E Valdez, T Dawson, Wielansky
    OF: Taylor, McKenna, Adolph, Machado, Costes
    SP: Deason, Freure, Hansen, Conine, Hardy, Ruppenthal, Dubin, Moclair, Daniels, Ni Rodriguez
    RP: Bermudez, France
    Inactive/DL/Released: Campos, House, H Martin, Serrano, Conn, Henderson, Cabral

    Extended Spring Training, ticketed for Tri-City:
    C: Perry, Ne Rodriguez, J Paulino, Marquez
    IF: S Mendoza, L Santana, Nova, J Perez, Carrasco, Urdanet, J Pineda
    OF: W Abreu, J Ramirez, R Rodriguez, A Santana, Mattix
    P: Schroeder, Macuare, M Ramirez, Jaquez, Robaina, De Paula, Solano, Lopez, Bello, Mejias, Bojorquez, Bravo, Tejeda, Rivera, Figueroa, Billingsly, Gonzalez

    Extended Spring Training, ticketed for GCL:
    C: J Alvarez, Hurtado, R Toro, G Castillo
    IF: J Castillo, Cueta, J Mendoza, Mascai, J Marte, E Morillo, Espinosa, Ja Bermudez, R Sanchez, Y Ramirez
    OF: Y Carrillo, Cortabarria, Pinto, A Castillo, H Martinez
    P: E Rodriguez, Tokar, J Lopez, J Torres, A Jimenez, Bellozo, J Chavez, Mezquita, F Medina, F Garcia, Cobos

    Compare these comps, and see where you may agree/disagree

    SP1: Whitley
    SP2: Ivey, Martin, Bukauskas
    SP3: James, Valdez, Solomon
    SP4: Bielak, Schroeder (needs better K & oppo-handed batter results than in debut)
    SP5/Swingman: Armenteros, Hartman, Donato, E. Sandoval, R.J. Freure
    Closer: ?
    Set-up man/high-leverage roamer: Paredes, Abreu
    Middle RP: Deetz, C. Perez, Bailey, Pinales, Adcock, Bostick, Nick Hernandez, Mushinski, Solis, Manny Ramirez, Brett Conine, Mark Moclair, J.P. France, Austin Hansen
    Forward- or reverse-matchup-biased RP: Guduan, Emanuel, McCurry (on last legs?), Jose Luis Hernandez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, Tim Hardy, Willy Collado
    Need more domestic performance data & scouting info but …: Ernesto Jaquez (Middle RP?), Alfredi Jimenez (SP2?), Heitor Tokar (SP4?)

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, I can’t claim them, as they’re comments on an article I wrote. But it’s a great start to watch who graduates from level-to-level. As you can see, the Astros have such pitching depth that it’s not just James in the 34th, it’s guys like Tim Hardy, Justin Ferrell, or how about Tanner Duncan?

        He had to pitch for East Carolina club team, and was an undrafted free agent. His coach, “I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as he has at anything in my life. The average person probably would’ve quit. Instead, with Tanner, he went to the gym every day, for like four or five hours. That’s all he wanted to do.”

        In his first full season, across two levels he put up 67K’s in 54 IP with a 1.04 WHIP. It’s like a Pitching Factory.

        Liked by 1 person

    • If the Astros have a catcher who was out of baseball for two years trying to defect from Cuba and get a visa to come to America, comes back into AA ball and has a 116 wRC+ on top of a low .274 BABIP, I just cant see them giving up on him.
      However, I make mistakes all the time. Are the Astros so full of catching that they throw away an offensive minded catcher like Quintana after one year?

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      • I was surprised Manea is already ahead of Papierski, but Luhnow said he was integral to the Davis trade.

        The organization is highest on Nathan Perry, but the way we’ve passed over Stassi and Stubbs, the philosophy must be to pickup a ML deadline piece like Maldonado. I’m pretty sure we are open to Chirinos in 2020 at this point, as well, depending on whether Stubbs can take on a full season soon.

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      • Developing catching talent is my soapbox issue these days. All the time and effort and resources they put into pitching, and I understand the need for it. But why is there not more emphasis on developing catchers? The demand for good catching ALWAYS exceeds the supply. Seems to me an organization that can always have 3 or 4 (potentially) above replacement catchers in the pipeline would have a real competitive advantage.

        Liked by 1 person

      • OP since the time you first mentioned Quintana, I was intrigued. I kept an eye on him. Physically I’m sure he’s a young 30. But we never hear why a guy disappears. There must have been some intangibles. I thought he might make his way up to AAA this year if Stubbs the call for Houston.

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  13. Sometime in the next 2 weeks MLB will come out with the new 2019 Astros Top 30 prospect list. It will be a topic of discussion here, I am sure.

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  14. Well looks like I need to set up a Go Fund Me page. I Have to add 2 or 3 things on Direct TV to “qualify” for seeing the Astros. I shut it down in November to save $75 a month. Guess I should have put it in savings. I feel like the cartoon of the old cowboy drinking his beer and saying, “I spent most of my money on women and beer. And the rest I just wasted. “

    Liked by 1 person

    • AC, don’t know if you’re in the “blackout” area but I subscribe to MLB.com to catch the Astro games. It’s pretty affordable (less than 100 for the year). Can’t wait to see my Astro’s this year.

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    • We are in our RV. I have to have Premium (or something) and then pay for the Sport package. Currently I have a Basic BASIC package but I still get 120 shopping networks. What more could anyone want.

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  15. Some things I noticed:
    *Lorenzo Quintana is the only catcher on the current CC roster. So, he is still around.
    *Whitley’s fastball grade in 2019 has jumped from a 65 to a 70. His curveball grade has been lowered from a 65 to a 60. His slider grade has been raised from a 55 to a 60. His changeup grade has been upped from a 55 to a 65. So he has a plus-plus fastball and 3 other plus pitches and his overall grade is up to a 65. His ceiling is now considered “a dominant number one starter” according to MLB.
    *Hinch says Brantley will not play first base.
    *Hello! Tyler White’s slash line against LH pitchers last season was .305/.417/.593/1.010. Against LH starting pitchers it was .375/.469/.788/1.256. Dang!
    * Josh Reddick’s career BABIP is .282, but last season it was only .258. Look for his luck to change.

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    • Maybe Lorenzo just needs to get his work permit papers in order before he can be noted as a formal employee at this point.
      Whitley might be pretty good.
      I’m sure looking forward to that .800 plus OPS in left field for the first time since when, Carlos Lee?
      Those must be trumped up White numbers.
      And I agree, Reddick is not done. I’d like to see him get the ball out to left field every now and then. That’ll improve the BABip.

      Like

      • Funny you should mention that. Reddick said yesterday that he has been working all offseason on taking pitches on the outer part of the plate to the opposite field.
        What I didn’t like last season was that his efforts to do that were mere slaps and lunges. What I hope to see is him hanging back and hitting oppo with more authority, like Berkman used to do when he hit left handed in MMP.

        Liked by 1 person

    • We got an .812 OPS out of left field in 2009. That was the last time over .800. We’ve had some real stinker years in left! We had a .603 in 2014. I don’t even want to look up who all was out there.

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  16. Which is why I am advocating for the Astros to put players in the positions where they produce the most and leave them there. Specifically, leave the All-Star left fielder Brantley in LF, the All-Star CFer in CF, Gurriel where he is most comfortable at 1B and White at DH where he was the most effective.
    Let Diaz be the utility guy in the infield and let the fourth outfielder be the fourth outfielder. It is not rocket science to put players where they play the best and leave them there and let’s be our best.
    This is a great team with great players. Put them out there and let them play.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Following up to my note to daveb above – here is a little high irony – in 2014 the LF with the highest slash in the majors .327 BA / .385 OBP / .890 OPS was …….Michael Brantley.
    Last season Brantley had a .309 BA (3rd highest among LFs in the majors) / .364 OBP (4th) and .832 OPS (6th)

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    • Mike Foltynewicz turned the corner last year and made the All Star team – he would look pretty good in the starting rotation. He went to the Braves for Gattis and Hoyt.
      OF Domingo Santana went with Hader in that Fiers / Gomez trade and looked like a keeper in 2017 and a guy you want to give away in 2018, which the Brewers did.
      Anybody else I’m missing here?

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  18. More of a question than a statement. This FO traded Josh Hader. He would obviously be in our bullpen. Past him, are there any other prospects that have been traded in past few years that we really need to have on the team in 2019?

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    • Yes and the scary part here in Houston is that if Correa is well again he could do similar numbers or better when its his turn for FA (though I guess I should not count on us having any shot of re-signing him….)

      Liked by 3 people

      • But it is not scary, Dan. The Astros are in the same boat as every other team. They will have to try and keep the players they want to keep and let players they can’t afford to keep walk into free agency.
        The contracts that Hosmer and Machado are getting from SD gives them a great window to win for years. But they also might end up being the reason SD wouldn’t be able to sign Tatis Jr to a long term deal if he becomes a star.
        The Red Sox need a closer, but they can’t afford one.
        Eventually every team is going to have a $30 million a year player or they will end up like the Royals, having a shot once or twice and then being bad the rest of the time.
        This year the Phillies, Padres and Mets and Reds are spending money, but not the Dodgers or the Braves. Next year some other clubs are going to spend big. Eventually the payrolls are going to go higher and higher with more big money going to more players.
        The Astros have three years of Correa left. Their job is to either sign him long-term or have somebody prepared to replace him. They have options with Correa and options means that they are not going over the falls in a barrel.
        Luhnow’s job is not to have the best team in baseball every year. Nobody can afford that. His job is to try and be a contender every year. That was impossible until he got here and changed everything.

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