While the Astros’ primary focus this offseason will undoubtedly be enhancing the bullpen, there is room for improvement offensively as well.
Free agent Carlos Beltran garnered 509 plate appearances in 2017, so there’s room to add a hitter to an already-prolific offense. It’s true that the Astros could fill those at-bats internally, but the options don’t seem that great.
Derek Fisher struggled to a .212/.307/.356 line in his first 166 major league plate appearances. Tyler White’s career .229/.294/.406 line leaves much to be desired. Colin Moran has a .206/.270/.382 line through just 37 big league plate appearances. A.J. Reed and Preston Tucker don’t seem likely to contribute substantially at this point.
Outfield prospect Kyle Tucker is not yet ready, so a stopgap solution could be beneficial, especially if the hitter brings a veteran presence similar to what Beltran brought. There’s flexibility on the roster to add an outfielder or a first base/DH type, and there’s no need to break the bank. Here are some hitters who could fit on the Astros’ roster next season.
Carlos Santana, 1B
Santana is probably the biggest fish the Astros should consider. He doesn’t hit for a high average, but he has good power and takes a ton of walks, and he doesn’t strike out too much. He’s also a switch-hitter and was a finalist for a Gold Glove this season.
With so many first base/DH types available, Santana could probably be had on a three-year deal for fairly reasonable money. MLB Trade Rumors predicts a three-year, $45 million deal for the soon-to-be 32-year old. The Astros likely wouldn’t be in a position to spend much more than that, but he’d be a great addition if they can get him.
Adam Lind, DH/OF
Lind might be my favorite option here thanks to his potential value. He played last season for $1 million with the Nationals and hit .303/.362/.513 with 14 homers in 301 plate appearances. He can play outfield if needed, but he’s best suited as a DH at this point.
The left-handed hitter could DH against righties with Marwin Gonzalez in left field and Yuli Gurriel at first base. Against lefty pitching, Jake Marisnick could play the outfield, with Gurriel moving to DH and Gonzalez at first. On a one-year deal, Lind could be an excellent piece that won’t tie up future at-bats for Tucker and other top prospects.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF
After hitting 40 homers just two years ago, CarGo limped to a .262/.339/.423 line with 14 homers this season. With that being the case, the 32-year-old could be open to a one-year deal to re-establish his value. The lefty could platoon with Marisnick in the outfield, leaving the DH spot open for A.J. Hinch to utilize as he sees fit.
The problem with this is Gonzalez’s numbers seem to have been inflated by playing at Coors Field. For his career, he’s a .323/.383/.593 hitter at home, compared to just .252/.308/.427 on the road. In 2017, he hit a measly .203/.274/.332 away from Coors. It’s risky, which is why it would have to be a one-year deal to work for the Astros. But there’s a ton of upside.
Granderson is an option if the Astros want a veteran presence but want to pinch pennies in doing so. The team can get him on a cheap one-year deal to platoon with Marisnick.
He strikes out a lot and doesn’t hit for average, but he’s got power and draws walks. And he would likely be a big plus in the locker room, which is at least worth the price of a reasonable one-year commitment.
Mitch Moreland, 1B
The former Ranger would be a poor man’s alternative to Santana, but still a quality player. Moreland was a Gold Glove finalist in 2017 after winning the award the year before, so his defense brings plenty of value. He also brings solid power and hits plenty of doubles.
His strikeout numbers are a bit high and he doesn’t hit for much average, but he also isn’t strictly a platoon player. He hit .246/.324/.460 against righties in 2017 and .247/.341/.342 against lefties. Moreland would be solid value on a one-year deal similar to the one he signed with Boston last year.
***Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference***