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Inbox: Will Astros become more active in FA?

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04: Manager A.J. Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros and general manager Jeff Luhnow talk during batting practice at Minute Maid Park on April 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) (Bob Levey/Getty Images)
January 23, 2019

HOUSTON -- There's been no shortage of Astros news lately. The club will finally have a Hall of Fame later this year, All-Star Alex Bregman is recovering from elbow surgery and Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt fell off the National Hall of Fame ballot in their first year of eligibility.As

HOUSTON -- There's been no shortage of Astros news lately. The club will finally have a Hall of Fame later this year, All-Star Alex Bregman is recovering from elbow surgery and Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt fell off the National Hall of Fame ballot in their first year of eligibility.
As far as roster moves go, the club hasn't made one since it signed outfielder Michael Brantley in December. Yes, president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow is still trying to land a starting pitcher, but the market remains stagnant with Spring Training quickly approaching.
Let's open this week's Inbox to see what's on your mind.
:: Submit a question to the Astros Inbox ::
Jim Crane said he's willing to spend more money this year and Luhnow has hardly spent a dime. Yes, I know Brantley and a low budget catcher and a utility guy. Outfielders are easy to get so why hang onto a guy like [Kyle] Tucker that showed nothing in the Majors over quite a few at-bats? This guy could be nothing more than a beast at Triple-A like many other Astro flops that killed it in Triple-A. [Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto] is a difference maker.
-- Eddie L., Houston

Well, two years and $32 million for Brantley isn't insignificant money, especially for a team that had one of the highest payolls in the Major Leagues last year. The offseason isn't over. The Astros will likely acquire another starting pitcher at some point, so it's too early to put a ribbon on their offseason just yet. I understand if you want to include Tucker in a possible deal for Realmuto, but writing him off at this point isn't wise. He just turned 22 and has only 72 big league plate appearances. That certainly isn't enough time to form any opinions on him. His ceiling remains very high.
Why isn't there more interest in Giovany Gonzalez? Seems like he would be a great fit for the Astros' rotation.
-- Matthew D., Manvel, Texas

Gonzalez has been a steady, durable big league pitcher for a decade now. He doesn't necessarily pitch deep into games, but he's pretty much automatic for 32 starts a year. The fact that he's left-handed and could probably be signed without breaking the bank makes him a nice fit in Houston in my eyes. And who knows? The Astros might have shown interest. We just might not know that yet.
Only questions that matter: How's Carlos Correa? Is he going to be himself again, or is this a forever back thing? That determines Astros' ceiling, in my opinion.
-- Steve H., San Antonio

I don't disagree that Correa's performance in 2019 following a down year in '18 in which he battled back problems is one of the Astros' biggest keys for success. A healthy and productive Correa will make a huge difference in the lineup. He said he was going to rest his back this offseason, but I'll be sure to follow up with him on his back and his offseason in the coming days. Stay tuned.
Why haven't the Astros made an offer for Nicholas Castellanos? He is young, he hits and he can play a lot of positions. Although not the best at any he still does the job well enough. At DH he would be key and could re-sign just to be on a winning club since the Tigers haven't been very good at all in the years he has been in the big leagues.
-- Nathan G., San Leon, Texas

Well, we don't know they haven't made an offer to Castellanos. The fact is most offers to players go unreported. At first blush, he would be a nice fit at DH for the Astros. I don't argue that. Their infield and outfield are pretty full, though, so perhaps he's looking for a starting job in which he can play the field full time? Time will tell.
What are Dallas Keuchel's chances of signing with the Astros?
-- Alex C., Grapevine, Texas

I still say it's unlikely, but the closer we get to the start of the season and the longer he goes unsigned, Keuchel's return to Houston isn't as far-fetched as it was once. Remember, Keuchel is a free agent for the first time in his career at 31 years old and is likely trying to strike it rich with what might be his only huge free-agent deal. If the market isn't there, the Astros could make a nice landing spot.
Will AJ Reed be invited to camp? Saw [Yordan] Alvarez got an invite to camp. Seems like Reed's time with Houston may have come and gone but it wasn't too long ago he was the top 1B prospect in baseball. Do you see him having any trade value left?
-- Aaron S., League City, Texas

Reed is coming to camp because he's on the team's 40-man roster, but you're right. If he's going to win a job on this team, the time is now. He's 25 years old and hasn't had much success with the big league club despite gaudy Triple-A numbers. Reed could have a huge opportunity this year. The Astros could still use a designated hitter, and some left-handed power could round out that lineup nicely. He'll have to come to spring camp and mash. I don't see him having much trade value at this point.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow <ahref="http: twitter.com/brianmctaggart"="">@brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.</ahref="http:>