Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Astros News

Offseason checklist: Astros' needs and moves

@brianmctaggart
November 4, 2019

HOUSTON -- The Astros took their season to the limit, losing to the Nationals in Game 7 of the World Series. They were eight outs away from winning their second championship in three years, but instead will spend the winter retooling to make another run in 2020. Coming off a

HOUSTON -- The Astros took their season to the limit, losing to the Nationals in Game 7 of the World Series. They were eight outs away from winning their second championship in three years, but instead will spend the winter retooling to make another run in 2020.

Coming off a club-record 107-win regular season, the Astros figure to be right back in the mix to contend next year with most of their key position players returning, as well as ace pitchers Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. The biggest storyline of the offseason will be free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole, whose return to Houston appears to be a longshot, despite a $17.8 million qualifying offer.

So what are the Astros’ biggest needs entering 2020, and what moves have they made to address them? MLB.com is keeping track here. As the offseason continues, be sure to check back for updates.

BIGGEST NEEDS

Starting pitching
A pair of former Cy Young winners return in Verlander and Greinke, and Lance McCullers Jr. is set to come back after missing all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Beyond that, the rotation has holes. Will the Astros’ top prospect per MLB Pipeline, RHP Forrest Whitley, finally be able to contribute? Are Jose Urquidy, Francis Martes, Rogelio Armenteros or Framber Valdez ready to step up as members of the rotation? The Astros will have to add a veteran arm or two to fill out the rotation and protect them from being short a starter, as they were in the playoffs this year.

Relief pitching
The only relief pitchers guaranteed to return are 2019 All-Star Ryan Pressly, whose second half was derailed by knee surgery, closer Roberto Osuna, Josh James, Brad Peacock and Bryan Abreu. Steady Will Harris is a free agent, along with Joe Smith, Héctor Rondón and Collin McHugh. Joe Biagini and Chris Devenski could be non-tendered. Houston will need to add some veteran bullpen help, which could mean re-signing Smith and Harris, and perhaps even acquire a lefty. The Astros didn’t have a lefty on their pitching staff in the playoffs.

Catching
Both of Houston’s primary catchers -- Robinson Chirinos and Martín Maldonado -- are free agents. The club could try to sign one if not both. If it’s not Chirinos and/or Maldonado, they’ll have to add another catcher or two. Garrett Stubbs made his debut last year and figures to be in the mix for more playing time. Still, the Astros need a veteran backstop to handle a veteran pitching staff. Anyone up for a Jason Castro reunion?

MOVES MADE

Oct. 31: Eight players hit free agency
Chirinos, Cole, Harris, Maldonado, McHugh, Rondon, Smith and Wade Miley became free agents.

Nov. 4: Qualifying offer to Cole, Devenski option rejected, Emanuel added
The Astros gave a $17.8 million qualifying offer to Cole, who will undoubtedly reject it and become a free agent. In addition, left-handed pitcher Kent Emanuel was added to their 40-man roster, McCullers Jr. was reinstated from the 60-day injured list and the club declined the 2020 option on Devenski, who remains with the team as an arbitration-eligible player. Emanuel would have been a Minor League free agent had he not been added to the roster.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.