On Wednesday, Major League Baseball’s free agency market added some names, as 160 players elected free agency including seven Houston Astros. With the season ending on Tuesday, the offseason is in full swing, as ball clubs explore the highly touted shortstop free agency class among veteran starting pitchers.
The Astros are in the running to sign both a shortstop and a starting pitcher to retool for the 2022 season. There are a few different routes the franchise could take, but with no rumors circling, we don’t know where each free agent is eyeing to land.
With seven Astros electing free agency, let’s look to see where these players land or if they return.
Zack Greinke has likely seen his final days with the Astros, as he eyes a return to the National League.
After being acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks, we never heard any chatter of the Astros extending Zack Greinke. The right-hander’s contract is differed over the next couple years, while he will catch a paycheck from another team and the Astros for years to come.
Bob Nightingale reported on Wednesday that Zack Greinke will not be returning to the Astros for the 2022 season, as the hurler has his sights on a return to the NL.
Even with the addition of a universal designated hitter up in the air, Greinke still wants one more home run and one more stolen base to be in the 10 and 10 club.
It is only fitting that Greinke’s final appearance with the Astros was as a pinch-hitter, where he slashed a single in the World Series. Above all else, the right-hander kept us entertained and was a key acquisition for the 2019 World Series run.
Justin Verlander was missing all season, so the odds of him returning to the Astros are slim.
We didn’t see Justin Verlander all season, as he nursed himself back from Tommy John surgery. Yet in a similar case, Lance McCullers Jr. stayed with the club during his recovery in 2019, but with COVID-19 protocols, it was likely Verlander wasn’t allowed to be with the team.
In his absence, Verlander has recently been rehabbing every day:
It was also rumored that Verlander was going to throw out the first pitch of an American League Division Game, but the current players vetoed the idea, as reported by John Granato of ESPN 97.5.
Verlander was the key acquisition for the 2017 World Series championship, and while the Astros are “probably” going to grant him a qualifying offer, it is unclear whether he accepts it or not. Verlander will probably not make as much as the 2022 qualifying offer ($18.4 million) in average annual value, but a reunion in Detroit makes the most sense.
Verlander will be 39-years-old by Opening Day, two years removed from his Cy Young and a season and a half from live action. The Astros would gain a draft pick if Verlander rejects the qualifying offer, but they also could be banking on a resurgent return if he were to accept it or a high-priced pitching market.