Luhnow anticipates active Winter Meetings
HOUSTON -- Don't be surprised if the Astros leave next week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., having addressed some of their biggest offseason needs.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday the club has been busier than it's been in the last four years while trying to navigate its way through the trade and free-agent market. Luhnow said he fully expects the club to make some sort of deal by the end of the four-day Meetings, which begin Monday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
"I think I'd be disappointed if we didn't have at least one, if not two transactions between now and the end of the Winter Meetings," Luhnow said. "That's not a reason to do a deal. So we're going to be patient and opportunistic, but at the same time, we are working hard on all fronts right now to try and improve this team, and I do fully expect something will happen either before or during the Winter Meetings."
The Astros' biggest need, for the second year in a row, remains relief pitching. The club bolstered its 'pen a year ago by adding Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek at the Winter Meetings, and Houston had one of the best bullpens in the game before slumping in September and the postseason. The bullpen felt a bit short-handed at times, and Luhnow plans to improve the depth.
"What we want to do is improve the club," he said. "There are various avenues we can take to doing that, and a lot of that depends on what players may be available via trade, what the asking prices are, what players may be available via free agency. It does look like things are moving relatively slowly so far this offseason, with a few notable exceptions."
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 10 a.m. CT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 9 a.m. CT.
The Astros, of course, made a run at trading for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in July and still have an interest. They've also reportedly made calls on Andrew Miller of the Yankees, Ken Giles of the Phillies and Brad Boxberger of the Rays. Gregerson did a solid job closing last year, but the Astros could slide him into a setup role if they acquire a closer, or they could add a couple of relief arms in front of him.
"We do need to bring in a few arms to complement the guys we have," Luhnow said.
The Astros are set in the outfield with starters Colby Rasmus, Carlos Gomez and George Springer; at shortstop with Carlos Correa; second base with Jose Altuve; and catcher with Jason Castro. They could look to improve at the corner-infield spots, where there are internal options like Luis Valbuena, Chris Carter, Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy and prospects A.J. Reed and Tyler White.
"We've got plenty of options," Luhnow said. "Would we bring someone in that is a clear upgrade over those guys? I think we'd certainly consider it. It depends on what it takes to do that. But yeah, we're not looking for a shortstop, we're not looking for a second baseman, and our outfield is in pretty good shape, so naturally, [corner infield] would be an area where there could be some possible moves."