Inbox: Will Astros make big move at Meetings?

Beat reporter Brian McTaggart answers fans' questions

December 5th, 2018
Houston Astros general manager, Jeff Luhnow speaks during a news conference before Game 4 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)Frank Franklin II/AP

HOUSTON -- With the Winter Meetings set to get underway in Las Vegas on Monday, the Astros have dabbled in the Hot Stove market by trading for Blue Jays infielder on Nov. 17, while reaching an agreement on a one-year deal, according to a source, with free-agent catcher on Tuesday.
The heavy lifting of the Astros' offseason still remains, with finding a starting pitcher to put behind and as one of the top priorities. So let's open the Inbox and see what's on your mind just days before the Winter Meetings:
Why Robinson Chirinos? Inquiring minds want to know.
-- Karen W., Houston

We should know more on the Astros' plans for Chirinos once the signing is announced, which could happen on Thursday. What we know now is the club only had one other catcher on the 40-man roster with Major League service time in . Chirinos provides some quality veteran depth, if nothing else. I get the sense the there will be a bigger move at catcher coming at some point this offseason.
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What are the chances the Astros sign and/or trade for J.T. Realmuto?
-- Chris S., Houston

Of those two moves, Eovaldi is the most likely. That's simply because trades are harder to pull off considering the prospects involved. In the past two seasons, the Astros have worked out major trades with the Orioles (for Zach Britton) and Nationals (for ), only to have each team's ownership nix the deals. And remember how the Verlander deal with the Tigers nearly didn't happen? I think the market for Realmuto is going to be so robust, it will be a hard trade to complete, though the Astros could it. Still, signing Eovaldi is more likely, and you have to wonder if his hometown connections -- he's from the same high school as Astros legend Nolan Ryan -- will have a factor.
Are the Astros even attempting to work out deals for and or are they content with letting them walk?
-- Blake C., Galveston, Texas

While I think re-signing either player is unlikely, I would be surprised if the Astros didn't at least make an attempt to bring them back. Both Gonzalez and Keuchel are free agents for the first time, and they are going to want to test the waters. Their best bet of returning to Houston could come if the market for their services isn't what they had envisioned, and they're still without a job in January. In that case, the Astros might be a desirable landing spot, assuming they have an offer.
How likely are the Astros to make a big free-agent signing or trade at the Winter Meetings next week?
-- Curtis, New Braunfels, Texas

That's hard to say, Curtis. I'm getting the sense many of the club's big moves might take them into January. That was the case last year when the Astros traded for Cole only a few weeks before the start of Spring Training. I don't think they feel an urgency to leave Las Vegas with their 2019 roster pretty much set. Things can change rapidly at the Winter Meetings, though, so stay tuned to for the latest news.
Does management consider the clubhouse when making acquisition decisions? In other words, do they consult with any of the existing players to get their input on any possible acquisitions they're considering?
-- Karen W., Houston

Second question Karen, but I'll allow it because it's a good one. Yes, the Astros consider clubhouse chemistry and character when making any moves. It's no secret is close friends with Chirinos (as well as free-agent outfielder ). Before Houston signed two years ago, manager AJ Hinch called around to people he knows in baseball to find out more about him. Of course, the club said last summer it did "unprecedented due diligence" before trading for , who was at the end of a suspension for domestic violence. Players change uniforms so much these days that it's easy to find out about a player on another team from a teammate.
How likely is it the 'Stros land either Bryce Harper or ? And who would be a better fit?
-- Jordan B., Houston

Harper and Goldschmidt might be the equivalent of shopping on Rodeo Drive, especially in the case of Harper, who's a free agent. I don't see the Astros making the kind of financial commitment it would take to land Harper, who could get as many as 10 years and $300 million. The club doesn't need to do business that way to win. Goldschmidt, a Houston-area product, could be had in a trade, though he wouldn't come cheaply. He has one season remaining on his contract at $14.5 million, which is a bargain for what he brings to the plate. Goldschmidt would be a great fit at first base.