3 free agent targets for the Astros that would be worth paying the luxury tax for

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Jordan Hicks

Jordan Hicks might be the most gettable player on this list in reality. He's easily one of the relief pitchers on this year's free agent market, which is heavy on starters, with the most potential. The Astros bullpen is expected to lose three bullpen arms to free agency this year: Hector Neris, Ryne Stanek, and Phil Maton. Neris' loss will be the most deeply felt — he was able to pitch well and, maybe more importantly, often for the Astros in various roles, as a set-up man, occasional closer, and innings-eating middle reliever.

Hicks might not have the exact same kind of versatility, but he certainly has comparable numbers in terms of use. Neris pitched 68 1/3 innings in relief this year, Hicks pitched 65 2/3. He struck out four more batters and has similarly low walk and home run rates to Neris. Despite persistent elbow injuries in past seasons, Hicks is probably best known for his velocity, which has an average velocity that hovers around 100 MPH despite those injuries. At 27, he's still young and clearly has a lot of potential that could easily be tapped into with a pitching staff as competent as Houston's.

Estimates for Hicks' next contract range around four years, $40 million, which actually wouldn't put the Astros over the $237 million luxury tax ceiling on its own, but would get them perhaps uncomfortably close. Still, Hicks could be a very real option for the Astros, not just distant wishful thinking. If they are going to make any significant moves this offseason, signing Hicks should be a consideration.

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