The Astros are reportedly not willing to part with a draft pick to sign top free agents, so what will James Click and the front office do?
The Houston Astros are without their top picks in the 2020 and ‘21 drafts as punishment from the illegal sign stealing incident. The loss of such high draft choices puts general manager James Click in a precarious position considering his desire to build the teams farm system.
Agents say that the Astros are balking at any free-agent attached to the qualifying offer, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
It is hardly surprising that the Astros will be unwilling to part with a draft pick to sign a top free agent. It seemingly takes them out of the running for free agents such as Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto and DJ LeMahieu.
The Astros, of course, were connected to LeMahieu after rumors spread of the team potentially shopping star shortstop Carlos Correa. However, those reports were immediately squashed and while the team did reach out to LeMahieu, it would be stunning if he left the New York Yankees.
It is far more probable that the Astros spend their resources to upgrade the outfield and pitching staff. The most money will likely be spent addressing the outfield – Michael Brantley and Jackie Bradley Jr. remain high on their list – and the team will attempt to add one or two bullpen arms while considering a low-cost starting pitcher. But the reported list of competition for both Brantley and Bradley Jr. is seemingly growing by the day.
Who the team targets outside of that group – and there are indications that Click is leaving no stone unturned – is unclear. But it would be a stunner if the Astros landed a top free agent this winter. Most likely, it will be players who help them win now and maintain financial flexibility going forward.