The Winter Meetings is a gathering of everything baseball. It is the first stop in dreaming big for the upcoming season. Of course, Astros manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow were ready to talk about the many moves the team has made to bolster the roster.
He gave updates for Yulieski Gurriel, George Springer, Michael Feliz, and Chris Devenski in a chat with Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan.
Gurriel at first
The Astros have vastly improved their outfield with the addition of Josh Redick, Carlos Beltran, and Nori Aoki. But the question then became where do key pieces Yulieski Gurriel and Alex Bregman go? Both have been talked about at third base and in left field.
Hinch noted that he is comfortable with Gurriel at first base:
"We threw him in the middle of the pennant race at first base in Texas and he was a little raw because of the responsibilities that come with the position. But he can play infield. He has good footwork. He can handle the glove.
"The fact that he hasn't done it a lot will just mean that we've got to put a little extra work in. Him being on the corner and him getting a full spring training of work at first base will do wonders for him.
"Between he and Marwin - obviously (Tyler) White and (A.J.) Reed will factor in at some extent depending on how many pitchers we carry - we will have a good first baseman."
That said with Marwin Gonzalez still holding the role as the super utility infielder, putting Tyler White and A.J. Reed on the outside looking in for any extended amount of playing time.
Leading off...George Springer
Hinch also appears ready to stay pat at the leadoff position with George Springer.
"It's a little early, but I like George in the lead-off spot. His on-base (ability) and his energy and (the) threat for the home run. Other than the first at-bat of the game, he's usually hitting in the thick of things. And now with the bottom of the order potentially being stronger than before, he might get some RBI opportunities.”
Michael Feliz and Chris Devenski were a shot in the arm for the Astros bullpen in 2016. The Astros GM spoke with Kaplan about keeping Feliz in the bullpen while working Devenski in as a starter in Spring Training:
"If you think about our depth of starting pitching, you add (Chris) Devenski to that, it lends you to the conclusion that Feliz would be a great right-handed power arm to have toward the back end of the bullpen," Luhnow said. "So right now that's my hypothesis, but again that could change between now and spring training."