Inbox: Will the Astros bring back Marwin?

Beat reporter Brian McTaggart answers fans' questions

November 21st, 2018

HOUSTON -- Let's open the Inbox to see what's on your mind regarding the Astros this Thanksgiving week:
How likely is it that the Astros are going to be able to sign ?
-- Matt P., Cypress, Tex.

Any chance they had to sign Gonzalez is out the window with the recent trade to acquire infielder from the Blue Jays. The addition of Diaz -- who had a comparable season to Gonzalez in '18 -- and asking Yuli Gurriel to be more versatile next year will help fill the void of Gonzalez. The Astros would have loved to have Gonzalez back, but the price tag would have been high considering the club's other needs at this point.
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After almost acquiring (Bryce) Harper at the Trade Deadline, do you think (president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff) Luhnow/(owner Jim) Crane will pursue him in free agency?
-- Adam A., Sugar Land, Tex.

If the reports are true that Harper could command as much as $300 million in free agency, the Astros are out. Acquiring Harper for the final few months of 2018 is one thing, but making a decade-long commitment to him with that kind of money is something I don't see the club doing. Moves like that could choke the payroll for years. Harper is a great player, for sure, but do you want to be paying him $30 million a year in 2028? The Astros can spend that money more wisely elsewhere and stay competitive.
Should we be worried about the turnover rate the front office had recently? And how much will it affect the Astros going forward?
-- Lenin R., Houston

In the last couple of months, the Astros have seen the departure of their top two analysts, Mike Fast and Sig Mejdal, and assistant GM Mike Elias (to the Orioles), as well as coaches Dave Hudgens, Jeff Albert and Doug White, among others. That's certainly a high turnover in the front office and coaching staff in one offseason, but the majority of the departures were these men taking promotions with other clubs. Any time you have the success the Astros have had in recent years, you're going to have other teams plucking away the talent.
When asked on Monday about those departures, Luhnow said the Astros have "good bench strength, good people in each department that are going to be capable of accomplishing our goal."
What's the likelihood the Astros walk into 2019 with in the lineup? Same question about [Paul] Goldschmidt and what price would Astros pay to get him?
-- Johnny A., Houston

Cruz would fit into the Astros' hole at designated hitter nicely and he could come relatively cheap for one year. Goldschmidt, who grew up in the Houston area, would require a trade and sending some prospects to the D-backs, but considering he's got one more year before free agency, the Astros should be able to get him without moving top prospects like and Forrest Whitley, which they've been reluctant to do. Getting Goldschmidt to play first base would be a huge get, and would fit into Houston's plan of letting Gurriel move around the diamond more, while allowing Gurriel to get more at-bats at DH.
What is the status with Charlie Morton? Is he gone? Is he mulling the Astros' offer? Are they in full negotiations?
-- Ken S., Houston

USA Today reported earlier this week that the Astros made Morton an initial offer to return in 2019 with an option for '20. I'm not sure where the negotiations stand, but the biggest issue for Morton might be deciding whether he wants to play again. He talked of retirement a few times last season, though he said if he returns, he wants it to be with the Astros. Stay tuned.
I know Tucker is frequently mentioned as a no chance trade item, but with the surprise news that Harper was almost acquired midseason, could we see a trade for (J.T.) Realmuto and possibly an OF? Especially considering the number of great pitching prospects we have?
-- Shawn W., Sugar Land

I expected to get some Realmuto questions, and for good reason. He would make sense for the Astros, but he won't come cheap. Because Realmuto is one of the best catchers in the game and still has several years of club control remaining, Houston would have to dig deep into its prospect pool to pull off that trade. Harper would have been a rental, so the price wouldn't have been as steep as it would be for Realmuto. The Astros do have depth in the Minor Leagues in terms of pitching prospects, and we've already seen them move Trent Thornton to the Blue Jays for Diaz.
With more teams using traditional/old school uniforms on Sundays, could we see the Astros bring back the Rainbow Jerseys on a more regular basis next year? Or will there be any uniform changes for next year?
-- Clif W., Beaumont

I haven't heard anything about any uniform changes, but I hope they don't make the rainbows a part of their regular rotation. As much I love those uniforms, those are from a bygone era and should be worn only as part of throwback promotions, in my opinion.