Just a thought experiment here. We know the Stros will have money to spend this offseason, but what would the best possible Astros roster look like if no players were added from outside the organization? I propose it might look like this:
2022 HOUSTON ASTROS (in-house concept)
McCullers, Valdez, Urquidy, Javier, Garcia
Set-up Men: Stanek, Maton
Middle Relief: Baez, Scrubb
Long Relief / Spot Starters: Odorizzi, Solomon, Abreu, Bielak
Situational Lefty: Taylor
2B Diaz / Hinojosa
LF McCormick / Siri / Matijevic / Jones
C Castro / Stubbs
IF Diaz / Hinojosa / Jones
OF McCormick / Siri / Matijevic
MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH
SP: Brown, Conine, Hartman, Dubin, Donato, Hansen, Bermudez, Jojanse Torres
RP: Paredes, France, Scheetz, Blanco, Ferrell, Hector Velazquez, Lawson, Daniels
IF: Leon, De Goti, Kessinger, Perez, Nova, Sierra, Shaver, Schreiber
OF: Leon, Dawson, Costes, Julks, Schreiber, McKenna, Barefoot
C: Stubbs, Lee, Papierski, Berryhill, Diaz, Manea
Trade: Brantley, Bregman
QO (with expectation of refusal): Correa, Verlander
Some of the position assignments above (Alvarez at 1B, Altuve as full-time DH...) might appear a bit strange. Here's my rationale:
- Altuve’s range and arm at 2B have become problematic but he still hits well and has a long-term contract, so moving him to DH makes sense if the team has a superior defensive 2B available.
- Aledmys Diaz has played well enough off the bench to make me think he could be a 110 wRC+ player as a starter, but if he is too injury-prone this might be too much. I’m not sure how Hinojosa has looked defensively in the minors but he hit up a storm in Sugar Land so maybe he deserves consideration for the job, even if only as a dark horse candidate.
- In the minors, Alvarez was considered a good candidate for 1B and with all the Astros’ good OF’s on the MLB bubble right now, it’s a shame to put him in LF. Time to convert him to 1B as his general physique dictates.
- Moving Yordan to 1B would allow Yuli to shift to 3B, with which he is very familiar.
- …and given Bregman’s injury proneness and general decline – and considering he’s on the wrong side of 27 – I think it’s better to trade him now, conveniently creating a spot for Yuli at 3B.
- Correa’s injury-proneness and insistence on a super-long contract suggest that it’s time to see what the Stros have in Jeremy Pena. I expect him to struggle big-time for the first half of the season but to be pretty well-settled-in by August. Expect 90 wRC+ from him over a full season but with solid defensive value.
- Meyers seems like the most mature and polished of the CF candidates.
- Brantley ought to be traded given his health condition and declining power. Astros got to stay young to keep the window open. Also, we don’t to block the current strong defensive outfielders. Steamer pegs Brantley for a .793 OPS in 2022 but if the Astros could get a .770 OPS with superior defense in LF from a player earning the league minimum, I’d call that a wash.
- LF is up for grabs in this scenario with four obvious candidates. All have certain things going for them. May the best man win, and may the runner-up get OF4 duties!
This is *not* the best lineup the Stros could field in 2022 – the idea is to use available money to improve on the above. SP, 2B, and LF come to mind as areas to target.
I'd peg the above roster for 90 wins in the 2022 regular season. With some solid trades and FA acquisitions, Click should be able to make it more like a 95 win team with outside potential to hit 100 wins.