The free agent market is moving quickly in some areas, so the Astros need to strike.
We’ve written extensively about the Astros‘ offseason needs and some of the players they can target. What we’ve seen so far is some of the free agent markets are moving quickly. The markets for outfielders and infielders have yet to heat up, but catchers and relievers are moving fast.
At catcher, top target Yasmani Grandal is already off the board, though he was likely beyond the team’s price range anyway. Travis d’Arnaud, Yan Gomes, Tyler Flowers and Stephen Vogt have all agreed to deals as well, so the market thinned out to a surprising degree in November.
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The Astros made a move here already, adding Dustin Garneau on a one-year deal. However, Garneau is essentially a backup who will probably relegate Garrett Stubbs to a Triple-A depth role. They still need a primary backstop before next season starts.
Robinson Chirinos and Jason Castro represent two of the best remaining free agent catchers, and Martin Maldonado is still available as well. With this market moving more swiftly than the rest, Jeff Luhnow needs to have his target identified and signed as quickly as possible.
The Astros also have holes to fill in the bullpen with Will Harris, Joe Smith, Hector Rondon and Collin McHugh currently free agents. The top two options, lefties Will Smith and Drew Pomeranz, are already off the market, leaving few, if any, surefire options if the team wants to add a left-hander.
As far as righties go, Harris and Smith are two of the best available. Other top names include Dellin Betances, Steve Cishek, Daniel Hudson and Arodys Vizcaino. Adding a right-hander or two would certainly be helpful, but having a southpaw on hand would be a boost as well.
The starting pitching market isn’t moving as quickly, so there’s not as much urgency there yet, and the team isn’t in need of infielders or outfielders. So they’ll need to respond to the market and get the guys they want at the positions of need before they’re gone.