Astros Rumors: Team trying to find long-term rotation free agents

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Multiple exposures were combined in-camera to produce this image.) Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Multiple exposures were combined in-camera to produce this image.) Jake Arrieta /

If the Astros make any more moves, it will be to help beyond 2018.

As we get ready to ring in the new year, that means that baseball is around the corner. You can almost smell spring, nevermind, it’s freezing in Houston. Astros fans are still basking in winning the first World Series in franchise history. In case you haven’t heard this, the 2018 team is supposed to be just as good.

In fact, the team is ready to run out their 25-man roster now. There will be some drama this Spring with Anthony Gose and the A.J. Reed dilemma. Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock will battle for the fifth starter slot, and Ken Giles would need to prove October was a fluke. Who will be the backup catcher? There will be a few surprises, but the roster is loaded.

As I’ve written before, the Astros are probably patiently waiting to see how the market unfolds. They don’t have a need to address for 2018, except for a backup catcher. Without having to make a move out of desperation, they can wait to see if they can get players in the bargain bin.

Bargain bin scraps?

Unlike three years ago, the Astros are now a premium free agent location. They are set to compete for another World Series Championship in 2018. When I say bargain bin players, I don’t mean the Francisco Liriano’s of the world. I’m talking about premium free agents who are adjusting to the market.

Three names I believe the Astros are keeping tabs on are Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, and Jonathan Lucroy. This was confirmed by Jon Heyman, who said the Astros were looking for long-term options. The rotation is great, especially if Charlie Morton’s success carries over to 2018.

However, Dallas Keuchel and Morton will be free agents after the 2018 season. Justin Verlander and McHugh will be free agents after the 2019 season. They are looking for top arms which can be around for the next 3-4 years if some or all of those players exit.

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A look at the targets.

Darvish is coming off a decent season but fell apart in the World Series. The Astros were able to hit Darvish because he was tipping his pitchers. There could be some red flags with that performance, which is why he could be had for cheaper.

Lucroy is also coming off a down season, and Arrieta is still looking for a payday. This has been an odd offseason, none of the free agents have signed for more than a three-year deal. There are many reasons why the market is slow, mostly stemmed by Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani. Now the Marlins are still stalling the market with Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto on the market.

Next: Astros Rumors: Team is seeking long-term catching options

If the Astros remain patient, maybe one of these players fall into their laps. Don’t expect a trade because they don’t like trading away top prospects. They are watching the free agent market to see what develops, but will not make a rash impulse buy.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***