While you’ve seen the Angels or the Mets with a pretty active offseason, the Astros are on the other side. Except for some minor transactions, they’ve been pretty quiet to this point. We’re in mid-January and they haven’t filled any of their voids.
Go take a look at their depth chart and you’ll see three huge holes. No George Springer, no Michael Brantley, no Josh Reddick. And it’s even worse: there’s no one to replace them yet, not even someone from the minors. Their bullpen hasn’t been improved either, except for the signing of righty Ryne Stanek last week.
Since December, the Astros have only made three transactions according to Spotrac:
But, at least partially, you can blame it on George Springer, I guess. The Astros can't be left for dead in the battle for Springer’s sweepstakes even though a late-December report by ESPN’s Jeff Passan said the Blue Jays and Mets were viewed as the two strongest possibilities for the center-fielder — of course, that was before the Mets made a blockbuster deal with the Indians to acquire SS Francisco Lindor and RHP Carlos Carrasco.
The Astros will go to extremes to avoid losing their franchise man, who happens to be the most attractive free-agent position player on the market. Certainly, whether they bring back Springer or not it’s going to define their offseason. So they have to wait for the 31-year-old’s decision to, well, make some moves.
At least for now, there’s hope for Houston. Except for guys such as LHP Mike Minor (now with the Royals), C James McCann (now a member of the Mets), RHP Blake Treinen (re-signed with the Dodgers), or Liam Hendricks (White Sox) the biggest names of this free-agent class have remained almost intact.
For example, an ideal scenario for the Astros —considering they’re not favorites to land Springer— would be that Jackie Bradley Jr. takes his time to find a new team. That’d give Houston time to wait for Springer to decide. If he signs with someone else, then Houston could turn its head immediately to Bradley Jr., Springer’s natural and most likely replacement.
The Astros would also be benefited if top relievers such as Alex Colomé, Kirby Yates, or Brad Hand don’t decide yet. I think their choice here will be defined —again— by whether they re-sign Springer or not. Not reuniting with George could help them sign an elite closer, besides perhaps Bradley Jr. and, say, Michael Brantley (?).
I’m just sharing my thoughts here, but what I do think is the re-signing (or not) of George Springer is playing a HUGE part in the —so-far quiet— Houston’ offseason.