The Astros off-season has been pretty much what was expected, except for one little signing. OK, the Justin Verlander signing was big, but it will be called little until it becomes official.
The team has done the following:
- Offered a qualifying offer to Carlos Correa and Justin Verlander as was expected
- Did not offer a qualifying offer to the other free agents, Zack Greinke, Kendall Graveman, Brooks Raley, Yimi Garcia and Marwin Gonzalez as was expected
- Had Correa and Verlander reject the qualifying offers as expected
- Had Verlander reportedly agree to a contract a few hours after rejecting the qualifying offer, which was totally out of left field
- Lost Kent Emanuel on waivers to the Phillies, had former top prospect (who never lived up to the number) Freudis Nova pass through waivers and head to Sugar Land and traded Garrett Stubbs to the Phillies for a former 10th round draftee, to clear spots on the 40 man roster
- Added infielders Jeremy Pena (potential replacement for Carlos Correa), and Joe Perez, right-hander Shawn Dubin and left-hander Jonathan Bermudez to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft
- Extended manager Dusty Baker to another season as manager and said goodbye to long time pitching coach Brent Strom
- Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel picked up Gold Glove trophies, and Carlos Correa picked up the award as the best fielder in the AL, and the Astros won the award as the best fielding team in the AL. Luis Garcia came in 2nd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting and Dusty Baker came in 3rd in the AL Manager of the Year ballot
So, what’s next?
- When the Astros make the Verlander signing official, they already have a spot for him on the 40-man roster after the Stubbs trade.
- December 1 is the deadline for teams to decide if they will tender or non-tender their arbitration-eligible players. The list of arbitration-eligible players includes Aledmys Diaz, Rafael Montero, Ryne Stanek, and Phil Maton. Whether they re-up, Montero would be the biggest question of those four, as his stint with the Astros was only four games due to injury. He did pitch well for them after stinking it up for Seattle, so they may well want him back if they think they figured out what his pitching problem was.
- The overriding thing happening or not happening on December 1 is this is the date when the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the MLB and the players union expires. There has been minimal buzz about movement on this agreement to date. Considering the two sides never were able to even agree on a start date and duration to the 2020 COVID delayed season (the Commish imposed the terms unilaterally) may tell everyone what they want to know about the probability of an agreement before the deadline.
That third bullet, especially if the agreement expires, may well put a damper on many off-season happenings going forward. Teams may not want to make the Correa-esque commitments when they don’t know how much a luxury tax will be under the new agreement. Lack of an agreement may also put a damper on off-season trades. Will there still be arbitration? What will the revenue split look like? What will the international signing rules be? Will there be a full season in 2022, or will baseball shoot itself in the foot and choke the breath out of the goose that lays the golden egg? And on and on.
While fans will be watching for what happens in the coming days, it may well be what doesn’t happen that will cast the most considerable shadow on this off-season.