Astros: Assessing the pitcher options ahead of the Winter Meetings
By Brian Murray
The starting rotation of the Astros’ pitching staff has become a situation of need this offseason. What are their options going into the Winter Meetings?
A few of the top pitchers on the market have already been taken off the board. The Washington Nationals have signed free agent Patrick Corbin, the New York Yankees acquired James Paxton via trade and the Boston Red Sox have re-signed Nathan Eovaldi. Some teams have made big splashes in the battle to lure in that elite pitcher, but the Astros haven’t even caused a ripple.
Jeff Luhnow, President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, is well aware of the situation and trust has to be placed in him to remedy the situation, as we enter the Winter Meetings. Luhnow has done it in the past, bringing in Charlie Morton prior to the 2017 season and acquiring Justin Verlander late that same year. Then last year he added Gerrit Cole in the mix. With the aforementioned pitchers, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr., he created one of the most feared pitching rotations in baseball.
It’s probably no coincidence that starting pitcher was the first thing that came to Jeff Luhnow’s mind, when asked what were the utmost important needs for the Astros, going into the Winter Meetings. Those meetings begin Sunday, Dec. 9 and end Thursday, Dec. 13 with the Rule 5 Draft.
Verlander and Cole are currently the only remaining pitchers left from last years rotation guaranteed to return for the 2019 season. Keuchel and Morton are now dangling out there on the free agent market and McCullers will miss the entire upcoming season, recuperating from Tommy John surgery.
There are several routes the Astros can take to fortify their pitching staff. They could make that big splash utilizing the trade market, sign one of the available free agent pitchers or look internally at their own organization for the answer. Let’s look further into the different options that are at their disposal.