Astros: Looking at MLBTR’s predictions for top fifty free agents

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 03: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Minute Maid Park on September 3, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 03: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Minute Maid Park on September 3, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 18: Marwin Gonzalez #9 of the Houston Astros celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 18, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Saying goodbye to old friends

As we all have known for a while, the Astros are likely to lose most, if not all, of their prominent free agents. It is rather doubtful that we will see Keuchel, Gonzalez, and Morton in a Houston uniform for the 2019 season. Since MLBTR only lists out 50 players, not all Astros’ free agents are included in the list. Following the article’s lead, only their predictions for Keuchel, Gonzalez, Morton, and Martin Maldonado will be listed.

So, where does MLBTR have Houston’s free agents landing?

LHP Dallas Keuchel to the Nationals; four-years, $82 million

If the Nationals lose out in the Harper sweepstakes, they’d suddenly find themselves with money to spend towards other areas of the roster. One could argue that this is the best course for Washington. Keuchel would pencil in nicely as the Nationals’ number three starter behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. For an average annual salary of $20.5 million, the price isn’t outrageous, either. Despite injury issues in 2016-17, Keuchel should age well as a pitcher who doesn’t throw all that hard. If he can overcome his recent first inning woes, the Nationals’ rotation is one of the best in the NL. Numerous contenders are likely to express notable interest for his services.

RHP Charlie Morton to the Phillies; two-years, $32 million

Although Morton will forever live on in Astros’ lore as the closing pitcher during Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, it feels like Houston’s management doesn’t have the utmost confidence in his right shoulder. Remember Morton was shut down in late August with right shoulder discomfort. He only made one more start during the regular season before a long layoff in the postseason. In his one postseason start this year, the right-hander only lasted 2 1/3 innings. If the shoulder checks out fine, a team like the Phillies acquire a starter coming off his best two-year stint of his career. For $16 million per season, it is not unreasonable prediction. A return to Houston or retirement is also a possibility.

UTIL Marwin Gonzalez to the Twins; four-years, $36 million

One of the key holdovers from dark days of the Astros’ infamous rebuild, Gonzalez will likely find a home a super-utility player. By all appearances, it doesn’t seem like Houston is intent on resigning Gonzalez. Any team that signs him will likely do so for his versatility all over the field. He did have his career season one year too early as he finished the 2017 season with a 144 wRC+. To his defense, though, he did finish the second half of the 2018 season with a 134 wRC+. The predicted contract from MLBTR makes sense, especially at $9 million per season. Incidentally, he may have the most suitors of any Astros’ free agent this year.

C Martin Maldonado to the Rockies; two-years, $8 million

Not known for his offensive capabilities, Maldonado is valued for his ability to work with pitchers, throwing out would-be base stealers, and pitch framing. One of the key acquisitions at the trade deadline for Houston, Maldonado helped stabilize a position in need. While Max Stassi started the season on a tear, he was relegated to a backup by August. Key contributor from the 2017 championship squad, Brian McCann, was injured most of the season. The Rockies need help at catcher, much like the Astros. He could return to Houston if management fails to acquire another catcher elsewhere.