The Houston Astros went into this offseason looking to address their bullpen. After their failed flirtation with Andrew Miller, and with David Robertson seemingly using the Astros as though he is the hot chick trying to get free drinks at the bar, that bullpen still has the same cast of characters as last season. Yes, Paul Clemens may have left, but is that really an earth shattering upgrade?
Naturally, the bullpen is still the Astros primary target heading into the Winter Meetings. Now that the Astros can be in the same place as the agents and other general managers for most of this upcoming week, they may finally find themselves with those upgrades they have so desperately sought.
Even if Jeff Luhnow and the Astros do not come back with a shiny new free agent, they may still be able to set the groundwork. For all the buzz that Robertson and Miller received in free agency, pitchers such as Sergio Romo and Luke Gregerson would likely cost far less and be better fits in the Astros bullpen. For the price of a Robertsonor Miller, the Astros could deepen their bullpen with two or three solid pieces.
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Then there is the trade market. It is seemingly a matter of time before Jason Castro is sent packing, and there are plenty of teams that could use an upgrade at catcher. Perhaps Castro, or even Carlos Corporan, would be able to fetch a decent reliever in return. Dexter Fowler, who is also rumored to be on the trade block, could potentially fetch a reliever as well.
Even if everything is quiet on the free agent front, that does not mean that something will not be coming down the pipeline. These meetings typically set the stage for free agent signings or trades within the next week or two. With the Astros having money to spend and several holes to fill, it should be an interesting couple of weeks, especially if they manage to land a top reliever.
The Astros headed into the offseason seeking to upgrade their bullpen. Now, heading into the Winter Meetings, nothing has changed.