The Houston Astros are desperate to upgrade their bullpen. They appear focused on Liam Hendriks and reportedly want to pair an elite reliever alongside him.
The names that the Astros are pursuing include Liam Hendriks, Alex Colome and Brad Hand. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Astros were pursuing Blake Treinen before he signed a two-year, $17.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers with the hopes of pairing him with Hendriks.
It is possible that the Astros have similar visions with Hendriks and a different reliever. The team just signed free-agent reliever Ryan Stanek to a one-year, $1.1 million deal, but that hardly will take them out of the running for the impact arms listed above.
The first order of business, however, appears to be securing Hendriks. He seems to be the Astros’ priority, based on previous reports, and signing him will likely come on a deal for at least three years and $14-16 million per season. There were questions whether the Astros would be able to afford such a deal, especially for a reliever, but their aggressiveness in that market in targeting not one, but two of these relievers, indicates that they have money to spend – more than originally projected.
Who the Astros prefer to pair in that bullpen with Hendriks is unclear, though Hand would make sense considering he is a left-handed arm and would provide a different look. Hand’s asking price will fall in the range of Colome and Treinen, so he could be a realistic arm to put alongside Hendriks.
That said, Hand will not come cheap. His deal will likely be for at least $7-8 million on a one or two-year deal, meaning the Astros may have to commit as much as $21-23 million this season to build their dream bullpen.
They still need to address their outfield which is without all three of its starters from 2020. But the Astros’ aggressiveness in upgrading their bullpen indicates that they have plenty of money to spend this winter, which is a sign that there will still be plenty of money left over to upgrade the outfield. And all indications are that James Click is active on the phones trying to close out deals.