To say that both the Houston Astros and the San Diego Padres struggled last season would be a bit of an understatement. Combined, the two franchises won 147 games, as their rebuilding process continued in full swing. Both teams headed into the offseason with money to spend, and sought to make those needed upgrades to bring their franchises back into contention.
That is essentially where the similarities ended. With new General Manager A.J. Preller in charge, the Padres have been a dynamo of action this offseason. After failing to entice any of the free agents they coveted to take their money and live in the always mostly sunny San Diego, the Padres swung deal after deal, netting Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Justin Upton, amongst others to fortify their roster.
Meanwhile, the Astros also struggled to attract free agents. Both Andrew Miller and David Robertson spurned the Astros to sign elsewhere. However, instead of taking the trade route, General Manager Jeff Luhnow stuck to his plan of building through free agency, eventually attracting both Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to come to Houston.
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It will be interesting to see which side bears more fruit. The Padres, while completely overhauling their roster, have ripped through their minor league system. The Astros, meanwhile, have focused on building through the draft and letting their prospects lead the next charge up the standings. Any signings made were done to bolster that younger core, helping them get into position to win instead of sending the prospects elsewhere for veteran talent.
The Padres strategy is likely to breed more immediate success, just based on the players brought in. Now, they finally have an offense that should give adequate support to their stellar starting pitching. However, they have gotten a lot older, and quickly. It may be difficult to sustain that success.
The Astros, on the other hand, are going to give those prospects a chance. George Springer, Jon Singleton and the other prospects on the cusp of reaching the majors will be getting their chance to prove that they can, in fact, form a long term nucleus that the Astros can build around. It may take longer, but as teams like the Rays and Royals have shown in recent years, the payoff for that patience may be great.
Which approach to the offseason would you have preferred – the Astros methodical search in free agency or the frenzied trades of the Padres? Let us know in the comments!