Though it’s still early in the offseason, the Astros could be content with what they have.
The past three days we have seen the Astros make a flurry of moves. While none of the moves involved big-name players, they did fortify a weakness exposed in the playoffs. They added three pitchers to improve the bullpen. None of the players are candidates to close, so Ken Giles has job security.
The Astros have a few potential in-house opens to be a closer eventually, including Francis Martes. Joe Musgrove or Chris Devenski could also evolve into the role. Two of the new pitchers have had closing experience, and the other has only pitched 10 2/3 professional innings.
Following the 2017 World Series Championship, the Astros said goodbye to Luke Gregerson, Tyler Clippard, Francisco Liriano, and Mike Fiers. Cheating here a little, Fiers was only in the bullpen for a limited time. Liriano and Gregerson were the only two who got playing time in the playoffs, albeit limited.
With the struggles of the bullpen, manager A.J. Hinch relied on starters to fill in the gap during the playoffs, hence allowing Charlie Morton to become the hero of Game 7 of the World Series. While it worked out this time, they needed to upgrade their options for the bullpen. This was the primary focus of the offseason.
They did so by first adding Joe Smith, who did have 15 saves in 2014. He will offer a different look on the mound with his side-arm delivery. Smith was signed for two years. He replaces Gregerson in the bullpen.
Then Thursday, they drafted Anthony Gose from the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft. He is a former outfielder who is trying to reinvent himself as a left-handed reliever. While he is a long-shot to make the team, he gives them a low-risk option. If he stinks, send him packing. With the players on this team, Gose will not be guaranteed a spot on the active roster.
Yesterday, the Astros made another moved by signing Hector Rondon to a two-year deal. The former Cubs closer had a down year in 2017 setting up closer Wade Davis. If he regains his form, he could be another option for the high-leverage roles. Cubs fans say that he is garbage, but maybe a change of scenery was needed.
With the Rondon addition, the Astros designated Preston Tucker for assignment. The Astros 40-man roster is now set, but that is subject to change. It is my belief that the front office thinks they have addressed the offseason needs. This team had the majority of players return, so they just needed some upgrades in the bullpen. They believe they are done.
Things can change, and they won’t just disappear into the night. The front office will continue to monitor the market to see if the price decreases for bats or another top starter. While the rotation is overcrowded, the depth of the Astros is what helped them win in 2017. For the right price, they could add more but are content with what they have.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***