The Astros will be searching for starting pitchers in free agency.
It’s that time of year, folks — shopping time! And no, I’m not talking about Christmas shopping. It’s hot stove shopping time, and the Astros have a list and will be checking it twice — and likely a few more times as well. One of the top items on the list is rotation help, and they could snag a free agent or two.
GM Jeff Luhnow confirmed to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome that the team is indeed looking at starting pitchers and plan on bringing in multiple guys. Some could be guaranteed spots in the rotation, while others would be brought in to compete for one.
Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke will likely be the top two, with Lance McCullers Jr. and Jose Urquidy penciled in as well. But there’s more than just one rotation spot open. Urquidy, while brilliant in September and October, is still a rookie and therefore somewhat of a question mark. McCullers, coming off Tommy John surgery, is highly unlikely to make 33 starts.
You can’t have too much pitching depth, as the Astros found out this season. Minor league guys Rogelio Armenteros and Framber Valdez struggled, as did Collin McHugh. Brad Peacock also missed most of the second half with injuries. Having a few extra veterans on hand to soak up innings would go a long way.
Of course the Astros will pursue Gerrit Cole, but in the event they are outbid, it seems more likely that they’ll go for pitchers who can be had on shorter deals for less money. The chances of them entering the Stephen Strasburg bidding appear to be slim.
I’ve already suggested one option in bringing back McHugh, who can pitch effectively out of the bullpen if he’s not needed in the rotation. But adding another couple of candidates to the mix would be beneficial. Here are five names who could be logical fits for the Astros.