Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Might Astros consider these new free agents?

@brianmctaggart
December 3, 2019

HOUSTON -- With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego next week, the Astros will ramp up their efforts to acquire starting pitching and relief pitching, as well as to find a starting catcher. The only addition the club has made so far this offseason has been signing Dustin Garneau

HOUSTON -- With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego next week, the Astros will ramp up their efforts to acquire starting pitching and relief pitching, as well as to find a starting catcher. The only addition the club has made so far this offseason has been signing Dustin Garneau to throw in to the catching mix in 2020.

The list of available free agents got longer on Monday when teams non-tendered players they didn’t see fitting into their plans next year, making them free agents. The only player the Astros non-tendered was pitcher Aaron Sanchez, who’s out until midseason following shoulder surgery.

These non-tendered players joined the free-agent pool

Here’s a look at some non-tendered players who could interest the Astros:

Relief pitchers

LHP Josh Osich: The Astros didn’t have a lefty in their bullpen during the playoffs and didn’t have many solid options in relief from the left side during the regular season, either. Osich, 31, was claimed by Boston off waivers from the White Sox on Oct. 31 in Chaim Bloom’s first player transaction for the Red Sox. But Osich's time on the team’s roster proved to be short-lived. He appeared in 57 games for the White Sox last season, posting a 4.66 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

RHP Derek Law: The Astros have acquired a few former Blue Jays through the years, and Law, 29, spent the 2019 season with Toronto. He appeared in 58 games, including four starts, and struck out 67 batters in 60 2/3 innings, with 61 hits and 40 walks. Law could provide some depth.

RHP Yimi García: García, 29, was left off the Dodgers’ postseason roster, despite spending the entire regular season on the active Major League roster. He had very unusual numbers, with a sparkling 0.87 WHIP and 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings but allowed 15 home runs in 62 1/3 innings. García reached the Majors with the Dodgers in 2014. He missed the ’17 season after Tommy John surgery.

LHP Ryan Buchter: Buchter’s command issues, which led to a relegation to lower-leverage situations as the year went on, contributed to the A’s decision to not tender him a deal, but the biggest factor here may be MLB’s incoming three-batter-minimum rule for relievers. Buchter, 32, carved out a role as a lefty specialist, holding left-handed hitters to a .238 average last season. Of his 64 appearances, 23 of them saw him face fewer than three batters in an outing.

RHP Blake Treinen: The rise and fall of Treinen was rapid in his three seasons with Oakland since arriving from the Nationals via trade in 2017. He took over as the club’s primary closer in 2018 and put together a historically dominant year that saw him post a 0.78 ERA, the lowest recorded by a reliever since 1990. But he lost his closer role this year to Liam Hendriks in June and had his season cut short due to a stress reaction in his back. Treinen, 31, finished with a 4.91 ERA and career-high 37 walks over 58 2/3 innings. If the Astros could get him on track, he could be a weapon.

LHP Alex Claudio: Claudio’s 83 appearances with the Brewers last season tied the franchise record. He posted a 4.06 ERA and allowed only 57 hits in 62 innings but doesn’t strike many batters out. Claudio, 27, appeared in 208 games with the Rangers from 2014-18.

RHP Junior Guerra: A workhorse reliever who threw 83 2/3 innings in 72 games out of the Brewers’ bullpen last season, Guerra, 34, posted a 3.55 ERA and a 2-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. With the Astros possibly losing free agents Joe Smith and Will Harris, Guerra could chew up innings.

Catcher

Josh Phegley: Phegley, 31, put together a career year with 12 home runs, 62 RBIs and a .693 OPS in 106 games with Oakland last season. He wouldn’t be an upgrade over Robinson Chirinos, however. His fate with the A’s was pretty much sealed when they acquired catcher Austin Allen from the Padres on Monday in exchange for Jurickson Profar.

Starting pitchers

RHP Taijuan Walker: Walker, 27, made just three starts in 2018 for the D-backs before requiring Tommy John surgery. Then a right shoulder capsule sprain he sustained during his rehab set him back and allowed him to throw only one inning in '19, which came in the final game of the season. Acquired from the Mariners along with Ketel Marte in a trade that sent Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger to Seattle, Walker was one of Arizona’s best starters in 2017, when he went 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA. He could be a classic “buy low” reclamation project.

RHP Jimmy Nelson: He has been hampered by injury and poor control in recent years but could be had on the cheaper side at 30 years old. He has been limited to 22 Major League innings since the end of the 2017 season following shoulder surgery. He had a 3.49 ERA and won 12 games in 29 starts for Milwaukee in ’17.

RHP Kevin Gausman: Claimed off waivers from the Braves on Aug. 5, Gausman, 28, went 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 15 games (one start) for the Reds. He went 3-7 with a 6.19 ERA in 16 starts for Atlanta earlier in the season. Cincinnati appeared to view him as a middle reliever rather than a member of its rotation, but he’s a power arm the Astros could put in the middle of their rotation.

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