Astros: Ranking Houston’s offseason free agent signings

JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 20: Jason Castro #18 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Michael Brantley #23 after scoring a run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the third inning of a Grapefruit League spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium on March 20, 2021 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 20: Jason Castro #18 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Michael Brantley #23 after scoring a run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the third inning of a Grapefruit League spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium on March 20, 2021 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Now that we’re creeping closer to Opening Day, it looks like the offseason can finally be assumed to be closed. The Houston Astros unfortunately lost George Springer, but they brought in several new faces (and a couple of familiar ones) to fill some key roles on the team. How the season goes may end up changing these rankings, but it’s fun to look at these as things stand now.

I am not including outfielder Pedro Leon in these rankings, as he’s not expected to make the team and was essentially in agreement with the Astros long before the offseason began. I’m also not including infielder Robel Garcia, who came to Houston via a wavier claim as opposed to a free agent deal. So with that out of the way, here are how these deals look right now.

We rank the Houston Astros free agent signings from the 2020-2021 offseason.

1. Michael Brantley

This one’s easy. The Astros had already lost Springer to the Toronto Blue Jays and it appeared Brantley was going to follow him. But GM James Click apparently made a last ditch effort to get “Uncle Mike” back to Houston and it worked. His .309/.370/.497 line over the past two seasons more than warrants the carbon copy of his original two-year, $32 million deal the team gave him, and his bat should hold up even as he closes in on his 34th birthday. This was a much needed re-signing.

2. Jake Odorizzi

Speaking of much needed, the Astros are without Justin Verlander and Forrest Whitley for the season, and Framber Valdez and Josh James are going to be out for a while at least. A late signing of Odorizzi should provide a big boost to a thin rotation, especially in a season when everyone’s depth will be tested. A proven, veteran arm may be worth its weight in gold this year.

3. Pedro Baez

This might not have been the big bullpen signing the fans wanted, but the Astros needed another veteran relief arm and they got one in Baez, who owns a career 3.03 ERA with solid peripherals and has never posted an ERA north of 3.35 in a season. A positive COVID test means he may miss Opening Day, but he should be a quality, reliable late inning arm for Dusty Baker when he returns.

4. Steve Cishek

The Cishek deal is a perfect example of finding value later in the offseason. He had a rough 2020 but still owns a career 2.78 ERA, and the Astros got him on a minor league deal. He got tagged for three home runs in his Spring Training debut but has tallied six straight scoreless appearances since then. He looks likely to make the Opening Day roster and could play a key role in the bullpen.

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5. Jason Castro

The Astros needed a more reliable backup catcher to pair with Martin Maldonado and they pretty much got the ideal guy in Castro. He hits from the left side, as opposed to the right-handed Maldonado, and he’s a veteran with a strong defensive reputation. He’s not a strong hitter obviously, but at a $7 million total salary over two years, they’re not paying him to be.

6. Ryne Stanek

Click picked up an intriguing arm for cheap after Stanek was non-tendered by the Marlins. He throws gas and strikes hitters out at a strong rate. If he can limit the walks and gopher balls, he could be another late-inning weapon for Baker. For just $1.1 million, it’s certainly worth a shot.

7. Jose Siri

Siri’s days as a prospect are likely done considering he’s 25 now, but the Astros don’t have much outfield depth in the upper minors, especially those who can play center field. On a minor league deal, Siri provides that depth with no risk. He’ll strike out a bunch and won’t draw many walks, but he can play all three outfield positions and has a little pop in his bat.

8. Steven Souza Jr

There’s a question as to whether Souza will even make the roster — he was hitting just .095 through his first 14 games this spring. It was worth a shot on a minor league deal, but with the team bumping up against the luxury tax line and his poor spring numbers, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him not make the cut.

Next. Cishek most likely to snag the last spot on the roster. dark

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