A few weeks ago, we ran one of our Q/A type posts….
If you thumb down the comments a bit, I answered my own questions. For #3 – when would I bet the lockout would end – I picked March 11 – so I just missed it, though somewhere in the world, it was probably already March 11 when this whole mess was settled. Yes, my arm is getting sore from patting myself on the back.
But now that the lockout is behind baseball, what happens next? In the case of the Astros, it would at least seem that the first domino, the solution to their shortstop situation, needs to fall before a lot else can happen. Sure, they might pick up a reliever or make some small trade, but the finances of the shortstop re-sign of Carlos Correa or a decision on his replacement will drive whatever else happens in this off-season.
Depending on whether they re-sign Correa (~$35+MM per year) or sign a Trevor Story ($20+MM/yr) or trade for someone further down the food chain like Niko Goodrum ($3 to 4 MM) or just let Jeremy Pena (league minimum) see what he can do, this decision will domino down on to the other choices, yet to happen (or not).
Signing a Correa or a Story would seem to knock the Astros out of making a move like a friend of the blog, Steven suggested – chasing someone like the sometimes injured, sometimes brilliant Carlos Rodon. Going for a cheaper option allows them to explore that type of possibility.
It could also affect what type of reliever (if any) they chase before the start of the season. With Pena manning short, they certainly could talk to a rebuilding kind of organization and take on a higher cost reliever (please make it a lefty) if some type of trade can be worked out.
The gut feeling here is that they are not likely to shore up the outfield, especially with how they approached the George Springer centerfield spot last off-season. Yes, Jake Meyers is probably out the first couple months of the season after shoulder surgery, but remember he did not even show up until the last couple of months of last season. They will cover the outfield with Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker, and Chas McCormick backed up by a fourth outfielder (Jose Siri?), a once a week Yordan Alvarez and an as-needed Aledmys Diaz.
But, if they did want to chase another outfielder, someone who would stick around when Brantley and Diaz are likely gone after this season, they again would wait to know how that first domino would fall before making a move.
In an interview yesterday, the Astros are likely checking in with Correa early, as Jim Crane alluded to. They may even give him a “last, best offer” and a deadline. But it is very likely they will have to move on and expect that to be made clear quickly. They will either stand pat with Pena or make a quick move to pick up a veteran. If they make a Rodon type move at that point, it means they will not be spending much moolah at shortstop.
This will all be a mad dash to the start of the season, but that dash begins with a single step or a single domino falling.