The Houston Astros top priority should be Max Scherzer


Jeff Luhnow’s clock as general manager is ticking. A possible transaction to extend his time as general manager is to make a big move in the offseason. The 2014 Astros bear similarities to the 2011 Nationals. A move I suggest is the pursuit of Max Scherzer. He should be be the Houston Astros top priority this offseason.

Bad press has stemmed from major problems have degraded the current health of the Astros organization. Some of the major problems include:

  • Brady Aiken nightmare
  • lack of a television deal
  • ignoring the need to spend money at the major league level
  • failing to sign impact international free agents

Even the decision to fire Astros’ manager Bo Porter has been met with negative criticism. Jeff Luhnow is certainly on the hot seat due to the failures the organization has endured during his time at the helm. Jeff was brought into the organization with a 5-year plan in mind. And that was accepted. But as year 3 comes to a close, Luhnow is under tremendous pressure to build a contender as soon as possible. Houston wants results NOW.

Max Scherzer would potentially give Luhnow another year.

You’re probably thinking: “the Astros are so cheap, they can’t afford Scherzer! Not even the Detroit Tigers can afford him!” This is true as Jon Morosi revealed the contract terms that the Tigers offered, on the heels of an American League Championship and Cy Young season:

This is where the Houston Astros can compare with the Washington Nationals. Why would an MVP candidate from 2010 sign with one of baseballs’ worst teams? The  answers are, of course, the uprising of Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. Plus a guaranteed 7-year deal worth $126 million. These three things were some of the reasons that Jayson Werth left a dynasty-in-the-making Philadelphia Phillies.

The Astros situation is similar. Carlos Correa and Mark Appel are still likely a season or two from being in the major leagues.

Their target this offseason has to be Max Scherzer. MLB Trade Rumors recently reconfigured their top 50 free agent lists. Scherzer tops that list. MLBTR had this to say about the reigning-Cy Young Champion:

"Scherzer has a 3.07 ERA in eight starts since the power rankings were last published.  The 30-year-old ranks second in the AL with 220 strikeouts, fifth with 187 2/3 innings, 13th with a 3.26 ERA, and 5th with a 2.84 SIERA.  His Tigers are a good bet for the playoffs, which would mark Scherzer’s fourth consecutive postseason.  Scherzer could secure the largest free agent contract ever signed by a pitcher, a record currently held by C.C. Sabathia‘s seven-year, $161MM deal from six years ago.  More recently, free agent Masahiro Tanaka required a $175MM commitment, but $20MM of that was paid to his former team.  Both of those pitchers received opt-out clauses, a likely goal for Scherzer."

Bringing a guy of Scherzer’s caliber is essential to the Astros winning a World Series in the future. Clayton Kershaw recently signed an extension with the Dodgers with an Average Annual Value of roughly $31.7 million. Signing Scherzer would give the Astros some flexibility along with security in their rotation. Despite a rough start to the season, Scherzer has overcome that to still have an elite ERA in a very competitive league. The potential rotation behind Scherzer is quite nice:

  1. Max Scherzer
  2. Dallas Keuchel
  3. Collin McHugh
  4. Scott Feldman
  5. Brett Oberholtzer

Michael Foltynewicz and Nick Tropeano are expected to compete for a rotation spot next spring. While both are good options and profile as solid starters, I would rather the Astros go after proven MLB talent. Scherzer is number one this offseason. Jeff Luhnow, go get this guy.