The winter meetings begin on Sunday, and run through Thursday of next week. These meetings are a time for all of the GMs around baseball to hole up in a hotel and try to make some magic happen. For the Astros, and Jeff Luhnow, this winter meeting is crucial, because it could lay the groundwork for the future of the whole franchise.
Let’s play a couple of scenarios out. Say the Astros address their bullpen woes (please) and add on a closer. Whether that be Sergio Romo or David Robertson, plus acquiring another relief option to really solidify the late innings would be ideal. Those signings would help the Astros in the immediate future, and an improved record could also help them land some bigger names via free agency next offseason.
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Players likely see Houston as a team that is rebuilding, and don’t want to endure a losing season or two before being really, really good. From a human perspective, this makes sense. From a baseball standpoint, especially that of the fans, it completely sucks. Fixing the bullpen, if that’s all Luhnow does this offseason, will greatly improve the squad for 2015.
Let’s say that like past off seasons, top free agents avoid Houston. The Astros will likely have to overpay to lure a high caliber free agent to Minute Maid Park. While overpaying for talent is never the goal of any sports franchise, if the Astros believe they have the right guy, overpaying at the winter meetings, or beyond, could be a very smart, long-term move.
How does that make any sense? It’s risky, but say they feel that David Robertson is the guy they want in the ninth inning. There are going to be many similar offers on the table this offseason, and many of the other offers will be from teams that plan on contending in 2015. They’ll be hard to pass up, right? Yet, if the Luhnow works some magic with the pocketbook, Robertson could choose Houston. So far, this sounds like a terrible idea, right? There’s more.
As David pointed out yesterday, most Astros fans have their anemic bullpen numbers committed to memory. A 4.80 ERA will not cut it. Limiting the number of blown saves in 2015, with Robertson (in this example) alone could bring Houston up to .500. That is the goal this season, right? Getting to .500, with the wealth of talent, and money to spend will lure free agents next winter. A team on the cusp of big things is much easier to sell than a team that has lost 100+ games in three of the last four seasons.
The Astros just can’t miss out on the players they feel can help them in 2015. If they have to overpay, so be it. But priority #1 for Jeff Luhnow this offseason should be landing them by any means necessary.