Astros GM, Jeff Luhnow is likely already in Nashville, TN, site of this years MLB Winter Meetings. If you’ll remember correctly, during last year’s Winter Meetings, Luhnow was hired by new Astros owner, Jim Crane and President of Baseball Operations, George Postolos to become the next General Manager of the franchise. He wasted little time, agreeing to a trade that sent closer, Mark Melancon, to the Boston Red Sox for SS Jed Lowrie and SP Kyle Weiland. Trades figure to be aplenty this week and the Astros will likely make at least one, along with a few low key Free Agent signings as the club looks to fill their DH position and add more pitching depth.
The 40 man roster currently stands at 37. You can safely assume a DH will fill one of the three remaining spots as will at least one selection in the Rule 5 draft. Could the Astros DH come from the Rule 5 draft? Absolutely. The Cleveland Indians left their 11th rated prospect and power hitting 1B/DH, Jesus Aguilar, unprotected thus exposing him to the draft. If the Astros do not select him, someone will. Its safe to say that Aguilar will be donning a new jersey this coming season. Former Astro, Lance Berkman, is another possibility as the club has openly stated their intent to pursue the switch hitter if he intends to play another season.
Just this past Friday, the Astros picked up local product and Rice alum, Phillip Humber off waivers, as Alex wrote about here. He will join Bud Norris, Jordan Lyles and Lucas Harrell in the Astros starting rotation. The fifth spot is up for grabs and could be filled internally or could be filled by a Rule 5 selection or Free Agent signing. We should know by the end of the Winter Meetings.
All in all, the Astros have several holes to fill. OF, SP and DH are the main ones. Closer could be as well if Wilton Lopez is traded as expected. Do not expect to see the Astros sign any big names such as Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke, but we could be the center of attention again through trades and selections in the Rule 5 draft. Rumors have already surfaced of players such as Wilton Lopez, Bud Norris and Brett Wallace being traded if the price is right. It should be a very fun week for those interested in following this process.