Offseason decisions for Astros and James Click

Every off season begins with a laundry list of decisions to be made by the front office on how the next season’s team (and onward) will be built. We have seen Jeff Luhnow progress from long term building during the dark days of 2011 to 2014 to short term “win now” decisions during the halcyon days of 2017 to 2019.

Now there is a new sheriff in town, because the old sheriff let the outlaws run the town. We don’t know new GM James Click very well. We know that the team he came from, the Tampa Bay Rays, are an up and comer with a team that has made it all the way to this year’s World Series by eliminating the Astros and which has been built on a much smaller budget than many other teams. We don’t know what Click will do in this off season situation because he’s never been a GM for a whole off season.

So after spending a short 2020 season bringing up young untested pitchers out of necessity, what does he face here in the off season leading into 2021.

  • What to do about Roberto Osuna? OK, he made the obvious decision here by waiving Osuna, who would have gone to arbitration and a $10 million paycheck after pitching 4 innings last season and likely pitching none coming up.
  • Extending qualifying offers to the free agents. Brad Peacock and Josh Reddick will not get QO’s. George Springer will definitely get a QO and turn it down. The real decision is on Michael Brantley and may well give us a hint on what economic restrictions the team is facing. The guess here is they will not offer the $18.9 MM to him and look to fill in more cheaply behind Springer and Brantley (though they may try to sign both in FA).
  • What to do about Justin Verlander? I think it was friend of the blog old pro (if it’s someone else correct me) who suggested the Astros will likely waive JV to open a spot in the 40 man roster. With so many players eligible for the Rule 5 draft who have value that is a possibility and perhaps a probability.
  • How to manipulate the 40 man roster for the Rule 5 draft? Well that certainly has already been happening. The four free agents above came off the 40 man the day after the World Series. Roberto Osuna, Dustin Garneau, Chris Devenski and Chase DeJong all cleared waivers and are free agents. Carlos Sanabria was claimed off waivers by the Royals. It will be interesting to see who (Forrest Whitley?) will now be put back on the 40 man and how many spots will be left open for other roster add-ons.
  • What trades will be made and what will those tell us about the Astros’ future? Will they be trading veterans for prospects? Will they be trading prospects for veterans? This could come down to economics.
  • Free agent signings….will they re-sign any of their own or find it too rich for their blood? Will they chase free agents from other teams? The suspicion here is that while the pandemic may not affect the high end free agents that much, there is likely going to be a glut of darned good, but not great veterans available and that their price will be depressed by the amount of talent available.
  • There will be arbitration decisions to be made. Will there be any non-tenders? Well in reality the Astros have basically non-tendered Garneau, Devenski and DeJong by releasing them. Unless they sign extensions with them, the Astros will exchange arbitration figures with Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers and Aledmys Diaz.
  • So will there be extensions signed? If they are truly losing Springer, you would think they would pull out the stops to sign Correa, who turned into a team leading monster in the playoffs and had a tremendous defensive season in 2020. Whether he has any interest in this when he only has to wait one more season for the big payday…hard to say. McCullers might well be interested in an extension and the team might move to sign the young veteran if they can find an agreement point. Diaz could get an extension, or they may see him as an often injured, stop gap in the utility spot.
  • International signings beginning Jan 15….Will Pedro Leon get scooped up by the Astros as has been long thought and be the long term replacement for a Springer or Brantley in the outfield?
  • How to set up another spring training and a re-start of minor league baseball with COVID possibly still active? This is a huge challenge just by itself.

In the end, I hope James Click is well paid, because he certainly will be earning it this off season. And we all hope he makes the right decisions for the team’s short term and long term health.

38 comments on “Offseason decisions for Astros and James Click

    • Your welcome sarge – this is the easiest part of the off-season to write something, because there is so much to speculate. After a while we may hit some dead spots – but right now we will plow ahead.
      Thanks for reading and commenting Sarge

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  1. The Astros have at least 5 guys I think they will want to protect: Whitley, Nova, Solis, Ivey and Solomon. The thing is, the Astros know everything about those five players and we know almost nothing because they ain’t talkin’.
    The Astros have 36 players on their 40-man roster, including 4 injured players: Armenteros, Alvarez, Pruitt and Abreu.
    They are going to have to let some pitchers go.

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    • They’ll add JA Rivera too, Op.

      This is who I’d fleece if we don’t protect in add’t to your list–
      De la Cruz, Tanielu, Macuare, Meyers, JP Lopez, Papierski Shaver to a lesser extent.

      Mushinski McKee Collado with Live Arms will stay under radar.

      Posting this again so everyone can see who is eligible
      https://www.fangraphs.com/roster-resource/depth-charts/astros

      My prediction is the election will change everything one direction, or the other. While there is still grave uncertainty you can bet the Owner’s bottom dollar, they are milking it to keep $ down amid “Dark Winter” talk. Not necessarily an endorsement, but if Trump is elected, basbeball will be headed to opening and ticket sales — who knows? Op brought up good points on the last thread.

      Relating to these names listed, while they could all be taken, other teams have their own surfeit of talent, having either tanked and done better in the draft; or they are playing their own games trying to re-sign as cheaply as possible. For these reasons, the Rule 5 draft may not be quit as cut throat as one imagines.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Good point on the injured players on the 60 day IL – they get counted back in to the 40 man.
      I would think Pruitt is gone, maybe Armenteros too. I keep thinking Cy Sneed (28 y.o.) and Jack Mayfield (30 y.o.) could be exposed and not taken.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, Pruitt has too many yrs of control. We will bite the bullet because 1st TJ surgeries are optimistic and Click knows what we have, plus he’s a Woodlands guy (already home dream job), so he’ll do what he has to to stay..

        If we leave off Mayfield, he won’t get picked up probably, and like Emanuel will be left out. Armenteros is probably still in the mix very much so. he could lose some weight, but after bone spurs, he should be fine to at least look at in Spring (unless there’s something new). I always said Sneed or Armenteros trade one, but keeping them shows how highly regarded they are, despite not getting many innings. Both guys I’d argue cannot really know what we have until they get consistency. Sneed looks like another Straily to me. As soon as we give up on him, he makes good somewhere else. Sneed might be another one though that we’d have to leave out if it came to him or Jairo Solis, for example.

        Another one, and have to say I called this from Day 1. Luis Santana is going to be exposed. he was “supposed to be” the Jewel of the JD Davis trade. What a crock. But that’s life: win some (Pressly, Taylor), lose some (Laureano, Davis), some are still racking up miles while we said bye long ago (Cole, Teoscar, Fisher), some tbd Thornton for Diaz.

        If anyone could come up with a foolproof way to project talent, while looking into the crystal ball of when other players in the org will be ready too, then be able to put your lesser performing players in the minors battling “injuries” and cycle through the prospects without exactly committing whole-heartedly to them (Castellanos, Nivaldo), then you have some names you have let other teams see, and can package in trade.

        A guy like Nova is going to see resistance at SS/3B and 2B in Pena, Toro and Kessinger in 2 yrs when he is supposed to project to a solid player. Maybe Nova is a guy who while the ether is still high #2, he can be added, in exchange for one player who doesn’t need to be roster’d right away. These are ways we can fit in others we fear we’ll lose in R5 by December.

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  2. I think the way I would approach selecting these guys is to ask, who could you roster and then still trade. An example is D1 Battenfield last year who was tradeable after a solid season. We could always roster them and then offload eventually.

    I just realized the biggest name we will leave available will be Ronnie Dawson, and odds are he will be taken on pedigree alone.

    Hate to remind folks, we took Ronnie Dawson instead of Pete Alonso.
    Oh, the pain.

    *apologies on the election talk, as it was only to do with forecasting MLB revenue in 2021.

    Someone on the other blog mentioned how CBA talks may break down, then add the issues with downsizing farms. Astros will probably operate just RR, CC, Fayetville, QC and Dominican. Under this new plan of MLB/MiLB ownership, I can see where Astros may benefit from Skeeters as another launching pad from Indy players like De Jong/Raley types. Also mentioned over there an idea that seems at least thought-worthy; signing preston Tucker who hit 960 OPS in Korea.

    Stubbs Bros 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We left Dawson unprotected last year and everyone passed.
      We can only lose two players right? or three?
      With Tanielu, Nova, Pena and Kessinger on the farm, I think we waive Mayfield.
      I looked at Sneed’s stats this morning and his age and his bad stats from the last two years, I think they cut him loose.
      A lot depends on if Solis and Solomon are 100% healthy and ready to contribute.
      If we sign a free agent outfielder, we will have to create a spot on the 40-man.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I misremembered Dawson was already R5, nice catch. Guess I was thinking that he did surprisingly well in AAA championships that he’d get some interest, but he probably won’t.

        I know Solis is ready, and they invited Solomon to Fall Instructs, so Astros will get a feel before time. I’ve seen reports fom mid-yr Solis to OD 2022. I’ll land in between Sept callup.

        Marlins left their closer open by not paying 10M, Kintzler. Many are projecting that if teams can save a few million by waiting to re-sign they will. A case in point is Devo. He could see how his prospects are, then come back on $1M deal (all things equal to his bounceback, which I fully expect).

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    • Could you shed some light on the phrase “Solis is ready”?
      I don’t want to pin down your source but can you expand on this without violating any confidences shared with you?

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      • Op, I am just projecting with no special info. I may have read half a dozen scouts’ comments on him particularly as late as Spring & have asked around for the latest video. Still waiting..

        As you know, the consensus is he will “be ready” to join Astros sometime next season, whereas some project AA/AAA ceiling for 2021.

        Either way, if he’s healthy after Instructs, we’ll roster him and see where we are next Spring. Judging from LMJ’s re-hab, Solis was on the mound in as quick a time, so he’ll have over a year of competitive rest from physical standpoint.

        We’ve been discussing all year how encouraging to get Solomon and Ivey back too. Surely we’ll strike gold with one of those?!

        Another name who’s sort of dropped off the conversation is Bielak. I can imagine prospects like him and Abreu (and those listed above) are are going have a learning curve that won’t necessarily look like Urquidy’s.

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  3. -I don’t want the Astros to go out and spend money on their bullpen. They have a lot of good young arms they need to add to their bullpen and they don’t need to spend money they don’t have on old arms. Pressley and Smith are fine because they are signed. Let’s get the next generation of bullpen greats from our own farm.
    -By the way, I think I mentioned this once before, Enoli Paredes was real good as a starter in his minor league career, but he was great as a reliever in his minor league career.
    -Now, about Korey Lee. Lee is in the same boat as every other minor leaguer who didn’t report to work in 2020. It is hard to practice your hitting when you don’t have good facilities. That said, Lee’s defense is something he could practice on his own. Blocking pitches, catching techniques, improving times on throws to the bases are things you can work on with a buddy or two. Daily visits to a batting cage and working on bat speed can be done. I would think catching defense is easier to work on than infield defense or outfield defense. A pitching machine can be set up to throw balls in the dirt.
    It is my opinion that you take Lee and move him up to the level he would be at if he had played all of 2020 in minor league ball. The guy is going to be 23 next year. He’s a big boy. Put him in AA and let him swim.
    Enoli Paredes never got to Round Rock and, yet, there he was looking good for the Astros in the AL Playoffs. Keep the good ones moving up!

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    • I would wager that Click’s philosophy would be to build a team from the farm system and maybe add a piece or two if needed as opposed to the free agent route. It sure seemed to work for TB this year. In previous years they traded away future stars for more younger up and coming players so maybe he’ll do that for the Astros. I’d think that it’ll be very rare, if at all, to see anymore Altuve, Bregman, or Verlander type deals in the future.

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      • You mentioned Rays, and on the heels of quite possibly the worst trade in history Archer to Pirates for Glasnow/Meadows /Baz, the Astros could do the same by trading someone like Correa, or another piece we might lose but have lots of depth, McCullers.

        That would be my question? Can we Buy Up in this way?

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  4. Oh, GoStros1 mentions five minor league teams the Astros will go with in a comment above. But I am sure that the Astros will also have one in their facilities in Florida in that rookie league.

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    • Yes, I do wonder if they’ll continue GCL, since I heard we were reducing 2 of 7 operations? I’m a little cloudy (lazy) on this still.

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  5. If the gloom takes real hold, it may change my mind on offering Brantley a QO.

    I would still stick to guns and offer one to Springer, because our own outlook is just as low now, too. It’s looking more like 4/$90 is a fair Astros offer, where he might get 5+ at $110M. Dropping my expectation from 130+.

    I am just operating under the assumption George has sold his house and is committed to testing the market. We stand to lose that pick no matter what unless we offer the QO, and I wouldn’t risk that without a promise he’s coming back!

    Has it been announced yet?

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  6. #Mets officially extend qualifying offer to Marcus Stroman

    If Codify is correct that he’ll be offered 4 years at $64 million on open market, would you take $16M for 4 yrs vs $19M for 1-yr? Since Stroman cannot know for sure, the Mets have tried to make that a tough decision, and to protect their Comp pick.

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    • Welp, here are your QO’s

      Trevor Bauer, Reds RHP
      Kevin Gausman, Giants RHP
      DJ LeMahieu, Yankees 2B
      J.T. Realmuto, Phillies C
      George Springer, Astros OF
      Marcus Stroman, Mets RHP

      Brantley hits the market unencumbered.

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    • But if Crane sold the team he would what – triple his money?
      I know I know these guys don’t get rich by losing money – even temporarily

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      • No, but if you were anticipating 2.9 million paying customers to walk in your door and they don’t, then you are out huge amounts of cash you were depending on to pay your bills. You still have the bills, but you are missing the cash.
        I wasn’t talking about assets, I was talking about operating capital. That money to pay the bills has to be borrowed or taken from somewhere else in order to pay those bills, including the expense of redoing the right field area that nobody talked about because nobody was there to see it, changes which he had to pay for. Plus all the expenses and payments on two ballparks, MMP and West Palm Beach.

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  7. IF the Astros were to transition from Brantley, Springer, Reddick in the outfield to Tucker, McCormick, Leon in the outfield, would they be transitioning from the oldest outfield in MLB to the youngest?

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  8. Even before we limped and gimped our way through the 60 game exhibition season, and before I was forced to take notice as our guys went deep into the expanded post season, I was already looking forward to this winters mechanisms. It’s fascinating. One day I’ll be thinking that Crane and Click are making room for a run at Springer. Today I’m convinced he’s long gone. Maybe we will have the cheapest, quickest lowest .OPS outfield in baseball. Maybe we won’t. Hopefully Leon will get signed. Puig hit the majors at 22 with 63 minor league games under his belt. Why not Pedro? And I’m not ruling out Jake in center. I’d rather see him there on opening day than Straw or Mc Cormick. And Diaz did put up an .823 OPS in 2019 during a stretch of good health. Maybe he helps hold the the fort down in left until Leon wears out AAA ball. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Click comes up with.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A couple scenarios with hybrid, or contingencies..

    1. Pretty much stand pat in the OF & put savings in replacing JV/Osuna.
    Straw Tucker McCormick Diaz Jones Stubbs (rotate)
    Leon DeLaCruz Barber Projectible Stud Outfit in’22.

    2. Obtain a free agent with 2-yr fit. A few over-pay options to *only* offer 2 years are; Jackie Bradley Jr 2/$24m? Rusney Castillo mega star Cuban lost in RedSox system “risky”. Marcell Osuna was 5 WAR player 2-yrs/40 whatever it takes. This option makes us Murderous Row when Alvarez coes back 100%.

    3. Take a flyer on a couple of guys who will likely beat out the prospects, but allow a platoon similar #1. Grossman 2/8, Profar 2/10, Maybin.

    Really depends on your opinion of how improved Straw and Jones can be. If you believe like I do, they could look the part by May, then we won’t need but one other OF until Leon is called up (Diaz?)

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  10. Remember last offseason? Where in the world are we gonna find starters and relievers? We need pitchers!
    This offseason it’s where in the world are we gonna find outfielders? We need outfielders!
    I’m betting that by Opening Day we will have outfielders.

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    • Yet I was the one touting Enoli Paredes, and Luis H Garcia when people said who?

      Here’s another.
      After Astros made the horrible Davis trade, they stuck McKenna Stevenson and Adolph in the top 30, I said forget all of them, “my money is on De la Cruz.” I’m most proud of this because a guy whose watched Astros minors for decades, MCN disagreed back then.

      I cannot confirm yet, but it appears Astros have either signed him to MiLB contract, or thinking of rostering.

      Ritchie
      Tanielu
      Duarte
      Canelon
      Campos
      Deetz
      Valdez (Gabriel)
      McCurry
      Saldana

      Are all MiLB Free Agents

      De La Cruz should have been a MiLB FA as well unless he has been temporarily been added to 40 man

      If this is the case, then it makes sense we’d allow McCormick and Cruz a try-out in Spring

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  11. Check out the MLB Trade Rumors site https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/11/mlb-free-agent-predictions-2021.html. Interesting on landing spots for Springer (White Sox 5/125) and Bradley (Atlanta 2/28) as well as potential spots for incoming Astros (Jackie Bradley 2/16) and Brad Hand 2/14). Then there are several others that they predict the Astros would be interested in. I find this interesting and always enjoying following to see what will transpire.

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    • Yeah – I just finished a new post and one of the items was referencing that MLBTraderumors article, Z.
      Yes it is fun to follow all this isn’t it?

      Like

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