The natural thought for Astro fans heading into 2021 is to be concerned about the team’s outfield and relief pitching. In the outfield, three of the four main outfielders headed into free agency, George Springer, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick. They were able to re-sign Brantley, which helped somewhat with that situation, but still appear to be heading into the season with some question marks in replacing the other two OFs, especially Springer.
Note – The George Springer post scheduled for today has been moved to next week.
Growing up in the ’60s, a lot of kids thought Willie Mays was the greatest baseball player. Others were in the corner of Mickey Mantle. But at my house, Hank Aaron was my parent’s favorite player and therefore mine.
One of the most active teams in this slow off-season has been the San Diego Padres. They have made three big trades to beef up their pitching rotation, picking up Blake Snell from the Rays, Yu Darvish from the Cubs and the newly completed pick-up of former Astro Joe Musgrove from the Pirates. They also signed one of the top players from the KBO (Korea) in infielder Ha-Seong Kim.
There is no doubt that the Astros’ 2021 bullpen was an area that needed shoring up after a freefall from a top bullpen in 2019 to a middle of the pack unit in 2020. The bullpen has added Ryne Stanek and Pedro Baez, will see the return of Joe Smith and there have been a number of rumors about the team chasing a closer like Brad Hand, Alex Colombe, Trevor Rosenthal, or Joakim Soria.
The off-season has gotten a bit more interesting with the signing of Cuban top OF Prospect Pedro Leon by the Astros. The Astros have been making smaller under the radar moves up to now, including signing two veteran relievers in Ryne Stanek and Pedro Baez. There have been long term rumblings of the Astros having an interest in other higher-end relievers from Liam Hendriks (since signed by the Chi-Sox) to Brad Hand to Joakim Soria to Alex Colombe and others.
As a friend of the blog, Old Pro, has been preaching for a while, January 15, 2021, is a potentially critical day in this year’s offseason. This is a date when two things will occur, one of which is mildly important and one of which is quite a bit more important….or could be.