Astros Rumors: Houston exploring bullpen upgrades

Brad Hand #33 of the Cleveland Indians throws in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 02, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Brad Hand #33 of the Cleveland Indians throws in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 02, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros need an arm for the ninth inning, and according to a report, are expressing interest in relievers in free agency.

The focus of the Houston Astros’ offseason has surrounded the outfield, and rightfully so. With George Springer, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick all free agents, there is uncertainty as to what the starting outfield will look like in 2021.

But that is not the Astros’ only need. They have a hole in the late innings following Roberto Osuna’s departure and have expressed interest in some of the top bullpen arms available, as I reported for FanSided.

The market features names such as Liam Hendriks, Brad Hand, Alex Colome and Blake Treinen, and all fit what the Astros seek. None of them are attached to the qualifying offer, meaning the team would not need to surrender a draft pick to sign any player.

Hendriks, 31, is the consensus top free-agent reliever and likely to land a three or four-year deal in free agency. He has had an ERA of at least 1.80 the last two seasons and in 2020, kept a leaky Oakland Athletics’ bullpen afloat. But it is highly likely Hendriks lands a deal worth more than $13 million a year, and general manager James Click appears more inclined to spend that kind of money on an outfielder instead.

The most likely options for the Astros will be Hand or Treinen, with Treinen being the most likely of the two to land a multi-year deal. He is two years removed from a season where he finished with a 0.78 ERA, most recently finishing 2020 with a 3.86 ERA in 25.2 innings with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Neither player would break the bank, meaning that Click would maintain the flexibility to upgrade the outfield in any way he seeks (except for George Springer, who is likely to land a deal well out of the Astros’ price range).

That said, the Astros appear likely to wait out the market in hopes of landing a reliever or two on cheaper contracts. Who those players will be are unclear, but every indication is that Click and the front office are leaving no stone unturned looking to upgrade the roster, especially with the bullpen.