The Houston Astros have made some small moves this offseason that are in the shadow of Michael Brantley’s re-signing. Looking in, there are still holes within the Astros roster with a definite centerfielder and closer not being named, but there is a smaller issue that could hold a quick solution: rotation depth.
The rotation holds a lock of Zack Greinke, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier, but depth past these five stands as an unknown. As the bullpen doesn’t hold a pitcher that can take the starting role when needed, the Astros should still be open to signing a pitcher that can fit both roles. That pitcher is Brad Peacock.
James Click has made it known that the Astros have moved away from big-check spending, but this doesn’t mean the offseason is over just yet. The pitching free agency class still holds former dominant names in Jake Arrieta and James Paxton, but the two haven’t been reported on the radar of the Astros. Neither has Peacock, but to make things more skeptical, there haven’t been many reports on the right-hander’s future.
Of the five signings Click has made this offseason, two of those players have had ties to his tenure in Tampa Bay, and the only pitcher left on the market with that sort of tie would be Jake Odorizzi, who is way out of the Astros price range. So, the thought of adding another former Tampa Bay Ray is probably not on the mind of Click or those in the front office.
Why adding Brad Peacock makes sense for the Houston Astros
The bullpen holds a lot of guys who are known for one to two innings of work, and while this is helpful late into games, the Astros lack that strong-long reliever. In recent years, it has been Collin McHugh, who is also a free agent. Peacock had been an Astro since he was traded from the Oakland Athletics with Max Stassi and Chris Carter in 2013 for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez. His tenure included time as a starter, and then time as a reliever when the Astros rotation was full. Of the 181 career appearances Peacock has, 83 of them began in the first inning.
The 33-year-old missed almost all of the ’20 season with right shoulder discomfort that plagued his arrival and his comeback to the game. In three appearances, the right-hander when 2.1 innings while posting a 7.71 ERA. The injury was still affecting Peacock, and he would be placed on the injured list once again. He never made his way to the postseason roster, and it seemed this injury ended his Astros career.
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The talks of Peacock signing anywhere could be desolate due to this injury, but if he is fully healthy, the Astros should look to offer him a short-term deal. From 2016-2018, Peacock appeared in 105 games with an ERA of 3.23; he saw great success in his strikeout rate (11.2 per nine innings) as it was the highest in his career. The right-hander has been average in all categories over the past seven seasons, but his ability to throw five different pitches has benefited his time on the mound.
The mechanics behind Peacock rely on the inverted w movement with his shoulders, and while their is speculation that this is what causes pitchers’ injuries, it has been dismissed as a cause. Right shoulder discomfort has been a reoccurring issue for Peacock, and while he did hit the IL as well for it in 2019, there haven’t been any reports on his injury status. If fully healthy, the right-hander could make in the market of $3-6 million per year depending on the teams offering him. According to Spotrac, the Astros have about $14 million left to spend for 2021, and while they might not use the rest of this money, Peacock fits in under the luxury tax threshold with the ability to sign another player if needed.
Houston had the chance of re-signing or extending the longtime Astros pitcher earlier in the offseason, but his right shoulder injury made his future in Houston an unknown. While exploring the market, Houston was looking at the All-Star closer room that included Brad Hand, Blake Treinen, and Liam Hendriks, but all three of them have signed for 2021. This leaves the Astros in a situation to sign a closer like Trevor Rosenthal or add depth in Brad Peacock.