Astros Rumors: Houston has big plans to upgrade the bullpen
It was widely assumed the Astros would spend big on the outfield this winter, but the team appears to be prioritizing the bullpen instead.
The Houston Astros had a big plan to upgrade their bullpen this winter. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the team hoped to sign free-agent relievers Liam Hendriks and Blake Treinen before he agreed to a two-year, $17.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It is still possible for the Astros to sign Hendriks, 31, to a deal. He is expected to land a contract in the three or four-year range. The financial outline is unclear, though he will land a deal worth more than the three-year, $40 million deal that Will Smith inked with the Atlanta Braves last offseason.
There were questions whether the Astros would be able to afford Hendriks, given their need to fill all three outfield positions, but their aspirations to sign two of the top relievers indicates they have plenty of money to spend toward the bullpen. It makes sense, given that they are entering the 2021 season with a young rotation and will be without Justin Verlander for most, if not all, of the year.
Treinen, too, would have been a big coup for the Astros. He would have likely served in the eighth inning role as the setup man to Hendriks. The $8.75 million average annual value is indicative that the free-agent relief market is lucrative, meaning that if they still have visions of creating a super bullpen, it will be pricey.
In addition to Hendriks, the team remains interested in relievers Alex Colome and Brad Hand, as I have reported on Twitter. Both are in a similar tier as Treinen, so a deal would have to be in a similar financial range on one or two-year contracts.
Who the Astros sign, however, is unknown and it likely will not become clear until the market develops, and there are no signs we are nearing that point. But the Astros are big game hunting looking for bullpen help and have left no options off the table.