Internal affairs have already made the 2023 offseason eventful for Astros fans. A week after capturing the World Series title, the team announced that general manager James Click would not return. Owner Jim Crane has received Jerry Jones comparisons for his hands-on nature, so his influence will undoubtedly impact the Astros’ decision-making. Bill Firkus will man free agency, but the lack of a GM hasn’t stopped them from locking up Rafael Montero to a multi-year deal.
Here’s what the rest of the Astros’ offseason could look like.
Astros Free Agents
Rafael Montero (RP)- Resigned on a 3-year, 34-million deal
Justin Verlander (SP)
Michael Brantley (LF)
Will Smith (RP)
Trey Mancini (DH/1B)
Yuli Gurriel (1B)
Christian Vasquez (C)
Aledmys Diaz (UTL)
Jason Castro (C)
Looking at the remaining Astros free agents, Verlander will get top-of-the-market money, but the length of the deal would be key. Would the Astros be comfortable handing out 40-plus million dollars for three years? Probably not, but Crane said they will try their hardest to keep him around. The same goes for Brantley, who would be a lovely DH option as well as occasional work in left field, but there hasn’t been a lot of news surrounding his return.
Vasquez and Gurriel could also return but would likely serve as platoon options or backup plans in free agency.
The Montero contract signaled a changing of the guard at the top. Click mainly restacked his bullpen each off-season, but Crane and company sought to lock down the group that won them a ring.
Priority number one should be a Kyle Tucker extension. Tucker has emerged as one of the best two-way players in the sport and should be paid accordingly. Fangraphs estimated his value to be that of a 37.7-million-dollar player in 2022, so he will certainly become the Astros’ highest-paid player should he sign. This might be the area Click is missed most. He was masterful in negotiating extensions for young stars. Yordan Alvarez for just 115 million dollars over the next six years ring a bell?
Positions of Need: C, 1B, OF
In a press conference shortly after the season, Crane stated that the Astros would look to acquire lineup depth and a power bat. Given that both of their first basemen are free agents and Martin Maldonado is 36 years old, first base and catcher are significant areas of need. Alvarez is also slated to be the opening-day left fielder, so adding another outfielder would be beneficial.
Free Agent Options
Jose Abreu 1B/DH
How about this for a power bat? The 2020 MVP has continued to hit the ball hard into his late 30’s, posting a hard hit rate of over 50 percent. Tack on his above-average strikeout and walk rates and Abreu would make an already scary lineup truly menacing.
Willson Contreras C/DH
It was reported after the season that the Astros had a deal in place at the deadline to acquire Contreras for Jose Urquidy. Few teams have had less offensive production from their catcher than the Astros over the past few years, so Contreras will surely draw interest.
Brandon Nimmo OF
Nimmo will be expensive but might be the best fit of all. He has mostly manned center field throughout his career but has over 600 innings of experience in both corner outfield spots. However, his fit in the lineup should make Astro fans fall in love. For one, he is left-handed and two he gets on base a ton. A career .385 OBP would make him a perfect leadoff candidate giving Jose Altuve the opportunity to slide down in the order, enabling Houston to cash in on his power.
Jurickson Profar UTIL
Obviously not as splashy as the names above, but Profar could be a valuable utility man for the Astros. In his career, he has tallied 100 innings at seven different positions! In addition, he hits from both sides and gets on base at an above-average rate.
Featured Image: Astros / Twitter