Let’s take a look at the moves the Astros made in the important 2016 offseason.
The benefit of hindsight always makes things look differently. But after a series of big moves last offseason, the Astros marched their way to 101 wins and the franchise’s first championship.
After a full season, let’s take a look at the four big moves the Astros made one year ago.
Astros sign Charlie Morton to a two-year, $14 million deal
Of these four big moves, this was by far the least heralded. Coming off a season in which he made just four starts, Morton was viewed as just a potential back-of-the-rotation option. Giving him two guaranteed years was even a bit of a surprise for a 33-year-old with a lengthy injury history.
Yet Morton surprised everyone, going 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA and winning a pair of Game 7s in the playoffs. The Astros saw something in him that no one else did, as he adjusted his style to throw a four-seam fastball that touched the upper 90s. This resulted in a career-high strikeout rate and turned this deal into a major bargain.
Astros sign Josh Reddick to a four-year, $52 million deal
In need of outfield help and a more balanced lineup, the Astros turned to the lefthanded Reddick. Viewed as a decent hitter with a solid glove, Reddick was expected to provide average power and some stability next to George Springer in the outfield.
The power numbers weren’t impressive, as he went deep just 13 times. But the rest of his numbers were outstanding. Reddick posted career-highs in batting average (.314), on-base percentage (.363), slugging (.484) and doubles (34). He drove in 82 runs and struck out just 72 times, helping this Astros offense become the game’s best. Postseason struggles aside, this deal looks great so far.
Astros acquire Brian McCann from Yankees for Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman
With Jason Castro’s departure from Houston and Gary Sanchez’s emergence in New York, this was a logical fit from the beginning. The Astros needed a veteran presence in the clubhouse and some offensive production behind the plate, and they sent a pair of prospects to get him.
McCann provided exactly what the Astros had expected, with his .241/.323/.436 slash line and 18 homers in 399 plate appearances. Though he was subpar at throwing out baserunners, he was otherwise a big contributor in many ways for this young team.
Astros sign Carlos Beltran to a one-year, $16 million deal
This one was big news when it broke. The hero of the 2004 playoffs, and subsequently the most hated man in Houston for leaving, Beltran returned for a shot at a title. He was coming off another excellent season, looking like a productive veteran hitter who was hungry for a championship.
Unfortunately, Beltran struggled at the plate all season. He posted just a .231/.283/.383 slash line with 14 home runs in 129 games, looking every bit like a 40-year-old. Still, his presence and leadership in the clubhouse was invaluable, and those contributions alone were worth this one-year deal. The Astros needed him to help them win their first title, and he did just that.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference**