The Astros have looked all offseason for an upgrade in the starting rotation.
With the way the Houston Astros have improved their offense this offseason, they have only tweaked the rotation. Despite the moves, the national media still feels like the Astros are one starter away from championship contention. The team seems to feel the same way, as they have gone after nearly every player on the market.
If a pitcher is a starter, then the Stros have probably kicked the tires on him. This is a seller’s market this offseason with very little free agents options at the beginning. There was a slight mention of the Astros to the top free agents Rich Hill and Ivan Nova, but they returned to their teams. The Astros settled for Charlie Morton, but he could be a sneaky pickup for this team.
On the trade market, it is safe to say that the Astros are looking at any pitcher on any team. They were connected to Chris Sale before he was traded to the Red Sox. The White Sox were rumored to be asking for Alex Bregman and Joe Musgrove as well as others. Also, Houston also has been linked to Danny Duffy and any Rays pitchers.
Astros engaged in talks for Archer, Quintana, and Gray.
While this is not breaking news, Bob Nightengale tweeted yesterday that they were still looking at a trio of starters. The three pitchers are Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, and Gray. All three of these pitchers would come at a steep price. In the poll above, I gave my opinion as to how large a haul it would take to acquire each. There are not any other available pitchers who would be an upgrade over the current Houston starters.
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The keyword Nightengale used was engaged. This means they could be presently talking to the other teams. These discussions have gone on since the winter meetings, but no deals are imminent. What’s taking so long?
The Astros could be having cold feet dealing Francis Martes and/or Kyle Tucker. Brian McTaggart heard an interesting comp for Martes, Johnny Cueto. That is a fair comparison for Martes who could become a part of the 2017 rotation. Scouts raved about the hitting ability of Tucker. However, it’s unlikely that there will be a deal for any of these three pitchers without one or both.
Is a trade needed?
I saw a prediction on Twitter that Lance McCullers will win the AL Cy Young award in 2017. A healthy McCullers and Dallas Keuchel will help Houston win in 2017. Collin McHugh is a nice mid-rotation starter. Musgrove showed some upside in his stint in 2016. Adding a top of the rotation pitcher will better position for a playoff run.
At this point, I think most Stros fans want action or live with what they have. With Jeff Bagwell‘s Hall of Fame announcement later today, I don’t expect any moves today. If the Astros don’t make a move now, they will do so if needed at the trade deadline. The Astros are looking at some starting pitcher from somewhere.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***