Astros: 3 high-end free agent starters to target

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Although the CBT will likely change this offseason, the Astros still have some money to spend on a possible starting pitcher.

Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander are no longer under contract, while the Houston Astros‘ once top of the league rotation now lies in the hands of developing youngsters. Although Verlander is not under contract, the soon-to-be 39-year-old has a qualifying offer to accept or decline this week.

Greinke is unlikely to return with his sights on the National League, but the Astros’ front office is interested in Verlander returning, as seen by the qualifying offer and quotes from owner Jim Crane and general manger James Click.

"“Hopefully [Verlander’s] back with us in 2022,” Click said at the GM Meetings. “And helping us out, because he looks like the Justin Verlander who is a Hall of Famer and Cy Young winner.”"

If Verlander does not accept the qualifying offer, that is another $18.4 million available on the books. And with Verlander’s last extension and Greinke’s contract deferred, the Astros have money to spend in free agency this offseason, while starting pitching could be a position to fill.

Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and Jake Odorizzi are returning starter options, while there is a surplus of minor-league depth to follow.

Peter Solomon, Tyler Ivey, Brandon Bielak, Kent Emanuel and Forrest Whitley are names that could likely backup the rotation next season, as well as Cristian Javier out of the bullpen.