Much of the offseason discourse surrounding the Astros is obviously centered around Carlos Correa, arguably the best player available in free agency. For better or worse, general manager James Click likely won’t enact the entirety of his winter plans until some clarity is gained with where the star shortstop decides to go. With a possible work stoppage also on the horizon, we will have more questions than answers for a while.
In a nutshell, those two topics set the foundation for Houston’s offseason. Both will likely generate tremendous effects on how the club proceeds to address the other areas of the roster. Specifically, which players could the Astros afford within their budget mandate from Jim Crane if Correa stays or go? How much room under the tax threshold, which most clubs treat as a hard salary cap, will be present?
Outside of shortstop, Houston’s primary areas of need starts and ends with the pitching staff. As we all can attest to following the organization’s third World Series appearance in five years, you can never have enough pitching. While the bats went cold at an absolutely dreadful time, the Astros also ran out of healthy arms who could help mask a slump.
With Zack Greinke, who led the club in innings pitched at 168 2/3, leaving, there is a clear and immediate need to beef up the rotation. Yes, that thought accounts for Lance McCullers. Framber Valdez, Luis García, Jose Urquidy, Cristian Javier, and Jake Odorizzi. Ideally, a pitcher who can absorb a decent size workload for a staff that only trailed the A’s in total innings pitched. I'd rather have one too many starters than to finish one starter too short. Plus, coming off the heels of a full season following a 60-game sample, I’d like to have some options in case an arm or three falter. Who could answer that call? Not sure. We have all offseason to speculate, but a need is a need.
The same thought applies to the bullpen, a group who could use another arm or three. All in all, Kendall Graveman, Brooks Raley, and Yimi García are all free agents, which leaves a few holes to fill out in the relief corps. In an ideal world, the Astros would re-sign Graveman, or someone similar, to a two- to three-year contract to form a solid one-two punch between him and Ryan Pressly to use in high leverage situations. I’ll immediately duck after writing this next line, but I also wouldn’t mind a reunion with Raley. Who ultimately knows, though, right?
Of course, any grand design for the pitching staff hinges on what happens with Correa. While the Astros have the budget to retain their star shortstop and sign a couple of pitchers, they may look for more bargains if they do. Without Correa on the books, one has to figure that they’ll splurge a bit in other areas of the roster. In any case, look for the Astros to be active this offseason, especially as it pertains to the pitching staff. The caliber of pitcher, however, is the ultimate question.