Roster Locks: Position Players
These position players, barring injury, are guaranteed to be on the Opening Day roster in 2021.
After inking first baseman Yuli Gurriel to an extension, the Astros will return their entire starting infield, which has been intact since 2017. Gurriel started out fine in 2020 but really faded down the stretch and in the playoffs, which may have been compounded by a hand injury. Regardless, the 36-year-old will be looking to bounce back at the plate in 2021.
Second baseman Jose Altuve struggled in the 2020 regular season but came alive in the playoffs, so the hope is that he can use that as a springboard toward another vintage Altuve season. Shortstop Carlos Correa was a beast in the playoffs and should have won a Gold Glove this year; he’ll be entering his contract year if the Astros don’t sign him to an extension.
Third baseman Alex Bregman also struggled at the plate in 2020 after finishing as the MVP runner up in 2019. He will be looking for a bounce back as well. Utilityman Aledmys Diaz, after playing in only 17 games due to injury in 2020, will be back and certainly hopes to stay healthy next year.
Right now, the only guaranteed starter is Kyle Tucker, who figures to hold down one of the corner outfield spots. His powerful bat made its presence known in 2020, and he also was a finalist for the Gold Glove award. The Astros will look for continued growth from him next year.
Myles Straw will also be on the roster, though it’s unclear if he’ll be the fourth outfielder or if he gets a crack at the starting center field job. His speed is a real weapon and he’s been solid with the glove, but his bat has been weak. If the Astros aren’t able to sign a center fielder in free agency, Straw will probably get the chance to show if he can hit enough to keep the job.
Veteran catcher Martin Maldonado will be back in the second year of his two-year deal. Yet again, he proved to be a strong defender in 2020 and did an excellent job of working with the pitching staff. His bat started out hot and then went cold, but he’s not here for his offense. The Astros figure to sign a veteran to back him up and may look to split the starts in a 60/40 timeshare.
Of course the big news will be the return of DH Yordan Alvarez, the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year. He appeared in only two games in 2020 due to COVID issues and problems with his knees. He underwent surgery on both knees and appears to have been doing well in his rehab. If he’s healthy, he’s certainly capable of slugging 40 homers.