The one positive at this time of the off-season is that amateur hack writers can be as accurate and newsworthy as the “big guys” who get paid to speculate in print or in the cloud. Does it take special psychic powers to know that the Astros are interested in trying to bring George Springer and/or Michael Brantley back into the fold? No.
Does it take a special in team connection to say that other teams are kicking the tires on a trade for Carlos Correa as he enters his last season before Free Agency? No. Do you need a bug in GM James Click’s office to know he is looking for another catcher, rotation depth and veteran relievers? No.
Case in point is a news item today that says that the Astros are one of the teams interested in free agent closer Liam Hendriks. Well duh!
But it can also be considered a negative that so little real news is occurring in the baseball world, that every man bloggers are as “knowledgeable” as the professionals. Like the dog days of summer, we are in the three dog nights of winter right now with the big news being teams drafting Rule 5 players off each other’s rosters, who will most likely be sent back to the original team or will toddle along on the drafting team’s roster for a season never to be heard from again.
On the other hand for any particular ball club, the off-season can turn around from a nothing sandwich to a hot stove conversation convention with a single move or a series of moves. Back in the off-season leading to the 2017 season, the Astros in the course of a few weeks in November and December claimed Nori Aoki off waivers, signed Charlie Morton, traded for Brian McCann and then signed Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran. Between mid-December 2017 and mid-January 2018, the Astros reeled in Joe Smith and Hector Rondon for the bullpen and then went all-in with a trade for starter Gerrit Cole from the Pirates.
This off-season as with this whole odd-wad year feels different. There have been a few transactions, but when will real action occur and specifically when will it occur for the Astros? After a 2020 season where the accountants did not have to stretch things to show losses for these teams and owners, who will blink first when it comes to salaries and signings? Will teams be able to find a common ground with the players to make deals? Will teams be able to find a common ground with other teams to make deals?
The off-season moves that James Click eventually makes or does not make should signal what his approach is going to be. Is he going to dip a little or a lot into the free agent pool? Will he keep up the Astros’ tradition under Jeff Luhnow to not commit long term to outside players? Will he choose to fill from within or from without? Will he skip some moves before the season and hold off until the trade deadline? Is his budget-restricted like in the days of grocer supplier and owner Drayton McLane?
It will be interesting to see what the Astros consider absolute must-haves vs. nice to haves.
- Will they bring in one or two veteran OFs (or re-sign one or two veteran OFs) or will they use Chas McCormick and Myles Straw and a sprinkle of Yordan Alvarez and Aledmys Diaz as a stop-gap?
- Will they, despite their kind words for Ryan Pressly, go out and reel in a closer like Hendriks in a depressed reliever market and move Pressly back to his All Star spot as a setup man?
- Will they bring in what Austin Pruitt was supposed to be last season, a Brad Peacock-ish swingman between the rotation and long relief?
- Will they stay with Martin Maldonado as their starter at catcher with young Garrett Stubbs as his backup or will they look for this season’s Dustin Garneau? Or dare we dream that they move Maldonado to backup and bring in a stud like J.T. Realmuto to start?
There will definitely be some action for the Astros this off-season. But when?