The Houston Astros front office will be heading to the Winter Meetings looking to add a catcher, another starter, and looking at cheap bullpen options. It appears that the Yankees are planning to blow Gerrit Cole away, so it’s time for the Astros to move on. As they try to get under the luxury tax threshold, don’t expect them to go after the big expensive names.
Jeff Luhnow will be looking in the scratch and dent section of the pitching market. Maybe a former star coming off Tommy John surgery may be an ex-closer, or perhaps someone who has pitched in Korean baseball for the past two years.
It’s been relatively quiet for the Astros on the rumors front.
They had been linked to Zach Wheeler, but he signed with the Phillies. One rumor that surfaced late last week by Jon Morosi was the Astros were interested in 32-year-old Josh Lindblom, who pitched for the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball League.
This is not Lindblom’s first rodeo in Korean baseball as well, as he only has 147 career MLB innings. Lindblom has played with five teams, including the Rangers, Dodgers, Athletics, Phillies, and Pirates. He has not pitched in the big leagues since 2017. Many baseball fans may not know who he is, but that sounds like a perfect fit for the Astros.
#Astros are among the teams still monitoring the Josh Lindblom market, source says. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 7, 2019
A few years ago, people were saying the same thing about Charlie Morton. In the past two seasons in Korea, Lindblom was named the best pitcher in that league. In the 2019 season, his strikeout rate and homer rates improved. He has become a member of the great spin rate club. According to MLBTR, Lindblom’s four-seam spin rate was 2610 RPM. His splitter has become one of his best pitches.
Morosi says the Astros are one of those teams monitoring Lindblom. Luhnow has said he would like to add other options for the rotation. They will likely bring in someone like Lindblom. That is if the price is right. I can see the Astros giving him a chance to start to begin the season along with Jose Urquidy. If one struggles, hopefully, Forrest Whitley will be ready to take the next step.
It’s unlikely that the Astros are planning on re-signing Wade Miley. Adding someone like Lindblom would be a typical Astros move. He has a career 5-8 record in the big leagues with a 4.10 ERA. Lindblom has a career strikeout per nine inning rate of 8, but he’s done better in the Korean league. In 2018, he had a 15-4 record with a 2.88 ERA. In 2019, he had a 20-3 record with a 2.54 ERA.
There would be some regression returning to the MLB. However, with his spin-rate, he may be a hidden gem. He has never started a game in the big leagues, so that projection probably will influence how much a team would pay for him. No, it’s not the sexy name you want the Astros to be interested in. But the Tigers and Angels are also interested.
MLB Trade Rumors has him possibly worth a two-year deal for about $16 million. Depending on how the Astros value Lindblom’s growth, that may be a high price tag. Brandon and I will discuss this on tonight’s Talking Stros podcast starting at 4pm cst.