Up until the start of the new year, the MLB offseason had been very quiet. This definitely applied to the Houston Astros offseason. The past couple of weeks though have resulted in some news around the league and Houston. However, with just a month until the (hopeful) start to Spring Training, there are some Astros offseason questions that must be answered.
Astros Offseason Moves So Far
There hasn’t been a ton of moves that the Astros have made, and there is one notable move that was not made. The biggest news Houston made was the re-signing of Michael Brantley to a two year, $32 million contract. The 33-year-old has been a steady presence in the Astros lineup over the past two years. In 194 regular-season games as an Astro, Brantley smashed 112 RBI and scored the same number of runs, hammered 84 extra-base hits, and owns a .309/.370/.497 slashline. In 31 postseason games, he is a .311 hitter with 15 runs batted in. He has been a model of consistency and will be welcomed back in Houston with open arms.
The notable move the Astros didn’t make was re-signing George Springer. It was a disappointing but unsurprising move/non-move for Houston. They let him walk in free agency and now he is property of the Toronto Blue Jays. Springer left his mark on Houston forever, helping the club win their only World Series in franchise history. He was the MVP of that World Series and his 19 postseason home runs are tied for fourth all-time. Springer developed into one of the most dynamic players in the league and his presence will be missed in Houston.
In other news, the Astros signed Jason Castro to a two-year deal in order to help Martin Maldonado get some days off. Castro played the first six years of his career as an Astro. Houston also added a pair of right-handed relievers in Ryne Stanek and Pedro Baez. Stanek has a 4.00 ERA in four MLB seasons, while Baez owns a 3.03 ERA over seven seasons.
Questions Still Remaining
The biggest question the Astros face is undoubtedly the center field situation. With Springer’s departure, center is open. Currently, Myles Straw would be the top option in terms of in-house choices. The 26-year-old has only 98 games of experience in his big league career. His lack of experience leads to a bit of a question mark. Due to the slow free-agent market, there are still solid options out there, in particular Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar. Bradley is entering his age 31 season; he’s a former Gold Glover, and he is coming off a shortened season where he posted a .814 OPS. Pillar is also a solid defender and hit 192 doubles since 2015. It would be impossible to replace Springer, but these are solid options they could look toward to aid the cause.
Outside of center field, they could also shore up the rotation or bullpen, but with the additions of Stanek and Baez, it isn’t an absolute necessity. A bench bat wouldn’t hurt either, but once again it is not a must. Houston has a month to tighten up their roster if they choose. However, this could very well be the roster to start the 2021 season. Regardless of how they handle center field, the current roster holds enough quality performers to continue to compete the way they have over the past few years.
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