How can the Astros address the closer position?
The Houston Astros were among the teams interested in free-agent reliever Brad Hand before he agreed to a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Washington Nationals.
The Astros still need a high-end reliever for the late innings. There are multiple options available such as Alex Colomé and Trevor Rosenthal who could make sense. There is only one problem: the Astros have indicated that their heavy lifting is most likely over this offseason, and they appear primed to enter 2021 with Ryan Pressly or Pedro Baez in the ninth inning.
It could be worse, of course. Pressly has established himself as a highly dependable reliever and Baez has big game experience pitching in the postseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He established himself as one of the most dependable relievers on the Dodgers as they struggled to field a quality bullpen (besides 2020).
But the Astros have indicated that, despite losing George Springer, they intend to compete this season. And entering the year without a clear arm for the ninth inning (both Pressly and Baez have little closing experience) puts them in a precautious position to start the season.
The Astros believe they have a roster capable of remaining competitive, so it is possible that the team could swing a deal at the trade deadline. But how likely is that? General manager James Click is looking to stockpile the farm system and trading away multiple prospects, especially when he is missing his top picks in the next two drafts, does not work hand-in-hand with that.
Something to keep in mind, of course, is that most teams are hesitant to spend big money this offseason as they deal with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Astros have been one of the most aggressive teams, at least recently, in addressing the roster. But without adding a high-end reliever, let alone a center fielder to replace Springer, their offseason feels incomplete.
It is likely that they will remain in on Colome and Rosenthal until each comes off the board. The only way either will end up in Houston is if they can be signed at a bargain rate. And if Hand’s deal is any indication, that will not be happening.