It’s been nearly four years since the Astros won their only World Series title, beating the Dodgers in seven games in the 2017 Fall Classic. A lot has happened since the club hoisted the World Series trophy, including coming within eight outs of a second World Series title in 2019 and, of course, a sign-stealing scandal that led to sweeping changes in the organization.
As the Astros, in the second year under general manager James Click and manager Dusty Baker, prepare to open the 2021 season, only six players remain from their championship club of 2017. That doesn’t include injured pitcher Justin Verlander, who will miss the entire 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and may have thrown his last pitch for the Astros.
Of the 72 players in camp at Spring Training in West Palm Beach, Fla., only first baseman Yuli Gurriel, second baseman Jose Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa, third baseman Alex Bregman – their entire starting infield – and pitchers Lance McCullers Jr. and Francis Martes were on the team four years ago.
Here’s a closer look at the remaining players from the 2017 squad and what’s next for them:
1B Yuli Gurriel
2017 contribution: In his first full season in the big leagues, Gurriel hit .299/.332/.486 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs in the regular season. He hit two homers in the World Series and caught the final out in Game 7 on a throw from Altuve.
What’s happened since: Gurriel has been an anchor at first base the last four seasons and had his best year in ’19 when he hit .298 with 31 homers and 104 RBIs. Last year, he slumped to .232 with six homers in 57 games and went 5-for-44 with no extra-base hits in the playoffs.
What’s next? Gurriel signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal for 2021 last September, with an option for 2022 worth $8 million.
2B Jose Altuve
2017 contribution: The 2017 AL Most Valuable Player, Altuve was a force in ’17, hitting .346/.410/.547 to win his third batting title while posting his fourth consecutive 200-hit season with 24 homers, 81 RBIs and 32 steals. He hit .310 in the playoffs with seven homers and 14 RBIs.
What’s happened since: Altuve’s production has dipped the last three seasons, partly because he suffered a knee injury midway through the ’18 season that required surgery that winter. He hit .219 last year -- nearly 100 points below his career average entering the season (.315).
What’s next? In March 2018, Altuve signed a five-year, $151 million extension that’s the richest in club history. It will keep him with the Astros through the 2024 season.
SS Carlos Correa
2017 contribution: Correa set the franchise record for a shortstop with 24 homers, slashed .315/.391/.550 in the regular season and smashed five homers in the playoffs, including an extra-inning homer in Game 2 of the World Series and a two-run shot in Game 5.
What’s happened since: A nagging back injury and a broken rib suffered in ’19 held Correa to just 185 games in ’18-19. When healthy last year, he hit .264 with five homers and 25 RBIs before turning it on in the playoffs: .362/.455/.766 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 13 games.
What’s next? Correa is a free agent after this season and said last month he wants to remain with the Astros.
3B Alex Bregman
2017 contribution: In his first full season in the big leagues, Bregman slashed .284/.352/.475 with 19 homers and 71 RBIs in the regular season and had his most memorable moment with a walk-off hit in the 10th inning to win Game 5 of the World Series.
What’s happened since: Bregman has blossomed into one of the game’s best players, finishing second in the AL MVP race in ’19 with 41 homers, 112 RBIs and 119 walks to go along with a 1.015 OPS. He hit just .242 last year with six homers and 22 RBIs in 42 games.
What’s next? He’s under contract though 2024 after signing a five-year, $100 million extension two years ago.
RHP Lance McCullers Jr.
2017 contribution: An All-Star in ’17, McCullers started a career-high 22 games and was 7-4 with a 4.25 ERA while having a couple of stints on the DL with lower back discomfort. He posted a 2.61 ERA in five playoff games (three starts) and started Game 7 of the World Series, throwing 2 1/3 innings and driving in a run.
What’s happened since: McCullers blew out his elbow late in the ’18 season and missed all of the ’19 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He returned to the mound last year and went 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 starts.
What’s next? McCullers is a free agent after this season and has been vocal about wanting to remain in Houston.
RHP Francis Martes
2017 contribution: Appeared in 32 games in his Major League debut, including four starts, and posted a 5.80 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings. He didn’t pitch in the postseason.
What’s happened since: A lot. Martes underwent Tommy John in August 2018, was suspended for 80 games in March 2019 for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug and received a 162-game suspension in February 2020 for a second positive test.
What’s next? Martes is on the restricted list and will still be suspended for much of this season. Once he’s eligible, the Astros will have to add him to the roster or designate him for assignment.