The Houston Astros missed on their top two targets in free agency and now have to pivot to other options. Can they avoid striking out?
The Houston Astros targeted Blake Treinen. He ended up signing a two-year, $17.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Astros targeted Liam Hendriks. He ended up signing a three-year, $54 million deal that includes a club option for a fourth season.
The search for bullpen help is not going well. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of names available.
The Astros are interested in free-agent relievers Alex Colome and Brad Hand, among others. There are other names available such as Kirby Yates, Archie Bradley, Mark Melancon and Trevor Rosenthal. But none of them would provide the same impact on Hendriks, the consensus top reliever in free agency and arguably the best bullpen arm in baseball.
Colome is an interesting name, given that he is the most-established closer on the market. He does not strike many batters out and his walk rate is high, but he has kept his career ERA below 3 and would provide stability in the backend of the Astros’ bullpen. He is likely to land a one or two-year deal in free agency worth roughly $7-8 million per season.
Hand, however, may be the name to watch. The Astros do not have many left-handed pitchers, and Hand is exactly that. Besides, he led the American League in saves last season (16) and is one of the most dependable relievers in baseball. He had his $10 million club option declined by the Cleveland Indians and no team claimed him on waivers, an indication that he will land a deal in the one or two-year range worth less than that option.
This offseason is still salvageable for the Astros, especially with the list of relievers available and the outfield market virtually untouched. But missing on Hendriks and Treinen is a huge whiff. Now, the pressure is on general manager James Click to make sure the franchise doesn’t come up empty this winter.