It is now March 11th, and numerous big name players are still searching for their home for the 2019 season. We decided to each take a look and see who could be picked out of the bargain bin and help improve the 2019 Astros. For a list of top 50 Free Agents who haven’t signed yet, check out this list (link).
*Brian Cohn (HH)*
Josh James' strain leads to bigger question marks in the starting rotation. We still have strong depth in the minors dying for a shot, but I figured this is the best place for us to reinforce.
It's easy to say Kimbrel or Keuchel would be great adds, but even at bargain bin pricing, I think they'll cost too much. Luckily, over the offseason I did a ton of articles evaulating different potential options. So who is my choice? Gio Gonzalez.
Why? We'll the original estimated price tag of 2/24 was not going to break the bank, but he could possibly be picked up even cheaper. Not bad for a pitcher who has averaged 187 IP and 3 WAR for the past decade. I wrote up in the article www.crawfishboxes.com/platform/amp/2018/12/28/18159018/should-the-astros-sign-gio-gonzalez why I think he will outperform his recent history especially with Strom's tutelage.
Dallas Keuchel. There’s a pretty cool writeup by Mike Petriello on MLB.com about the uniqueness of Keuchel. It’s not a stretch to say DK has diminished since his Cy Young season in 2015, but I think he’s become undervalued now. He’s one of the best groundball pitchers of all-time
Among starting pitchers with at least 1000 IP, Keuchel’s career 59.1% GB rate ranks 4th highest of all time (1st place - Brandon Webb; 2nd place - Cal Eldred; 3rd place - Derek Lowe)— Max's Sporting Studio (@MaxSportsStudio) March 8, 2019
and he produced 3.6 fWAR last year for the 103-win Astros—third-most on the pitching staff and fifth-most on the team. At this point, teams seem unwilling to forfeit draft picks to sign Keuchel to a deal he/Boras deems fit. And let’s face it, Keuchel has a Beard meant to reside in Houston.
Exile in Saint Louis
I would love for the Astros to sign Tony Sipp. After two bad years, Sipp bounced back to his 2014/2015 form. In his three best Astro years, he’s been remarkably consistent, totaling 1.0, 0.9 and 0.9 Fangraphs WAR. That version of Sipp is worth something like 2/12. Getting Sipp for one year for 3 million is a deal. His ERA was 1.86 and his FIP 2.41. With Peacock likely going to the rotation, the BP has some unknowns. I’d just as soon let Cionel and Framber hone their SP craft in Round Rock. Guduan is who he is at this point, a lefty who can’t throw strikes.
I love Sipp too, Exile. Have written two articles on him in the last year. But I’ve also written some about Astros trades through the years, and the league is strewn with viable players who were Astros cast-offs. I say, it’s time to trust the youth again. Give em a shot. If Dallas Keuchel had come up at this time, instead of growing into a Cy Young winner, he would have been stuck in AA.
You wrote a great article about giving Armenteros a shot this year. Is he the next Keuchel? We’ll probably never know, but if we add another veteran to the roster he’ll surely not get a chance, and he, or someone like him, will end up contributing for another team.
Loogy could be a problem this year, but if so, get one at the trade deadline.
Part of me wants to say Craig Kimbrel (“Bargain Bin” is a relative term, anyway); just cut loose, go all-in on probably the biggest name that’s still available, and build a Bullpen-of-Death to help close out games. But my less over-the-top /more realistic side says Edwin Jackson: he’s flexible (could start if injuries get too dire while also having bullpen experience), plus it would tie him for the “teams played for” record, which is cool. He probably fits the “bargain bin” label a little more accurately, too.
I think any free agent at this point is a bargain binner, probably desperate for any deal. Something wasn't right about Kimbrel last year. I'm not the only one to think so or he'd be signed.
I would say that most free agents are, Bilbos, but if recent rumblings are to be believed Keuchel is still holding out for a deal in the guaranteed 3 to 5 year range, which I don’t think the Astros should offer him. I have to feel that if he won’t take a deal with only 2 guaranteed years then the ship has sailed on that one for Houston.
That being said, I also wouldn’t mind if the team could sign Gio Gonzalez to a cheap, short-term deal. Without rereading HH’s excellent article on him, he could definitely be a solid #5 in this rotation and will probably give you in the neighborhood of 175 innings. Another thing to consider is that his biggest issue last season was that he lost some quality on his curveball and if there’s anything the pitching coaches are good at, it’s improving the spin.
If he’s that stubborn, it looks like Kuechel is about to enjoy life in early retirement.