Astros remain in terrific shape for 2019

Even if the Astros don’t make another notable player acquisition, the club remains in terrific shape for the upcoming 2019 season.

Unlike the previous offseason, the Astros are facing numerous questions about their roster. Up to three-fifths of the Opening Day rotation from last season, for example, will likely not pitch for Houston in 2019. The catcher position remains a bit of an unknown, although Robinson Chirinos is an intriguing addition. There isn’t a clear favorite for the DH job, yet.

It is fair to speculate how Houston should proceed in 2019. Another starting pitcher and catcher would go a long way towards the club’s title hopes. Contract extensions are another topic of interest. Does trading Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker maximize the Astros’ championship odds in 2019, or would it shorten the contention window of the next decade?

Right now, everything should be open to discussion, although it is wise to keep reasonable expectations. While myself and every fan would love to see J.T. Realmuto as an Astro in 2019, is he worth the acquisition cost based on what the club already has? There are solid points behind both sides of the argument. How about spending a ton of money for Bryce Harper? Something fun to discuss, but highly unlikely. And the classic prospects versus proven major leaguer debate likely comes to a head as spring training approaches.

All of that said, the Astros have plenty of talent remaining from their 103-win club in 2018 without making anymore moves. The “core four” of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman automatically stands out. Anytime a club has Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as the one-two in the rotation, well, there are worse places to be for a baseball team. The bullpen looks solid on the surface while the rest of the roster is filled with talented players.

The issue for the Astros going forward is whether any acquisition drastically moves the needle for success. The acquisition for Cole last season obviously moved the needle in the right direction in hindsight, but it wasn’t a complete guarantee around this time a year ago. But Houston was already a defending champion without Cole, so it wasn’t exactly a must for the club to acquire him. But I am sure glad they did.

Next: Could Aaron Loup be Astros’ left-handed answer for the bullpen?

Barring something unforeseen, the Astros enter the upcoming season as the presumptive favorites in the AL West and one of the top three teams in the AL. There is no telling how this club may change in the coming years, but the upcoming 2019 season looks promising.