The 2023 Winter Meetings were a big, fat dud for the Houston Astros. The Astros have seemed rather lackadaisical and docile for the entire offseason, and the fact that their biggest acquisition of the offseason so far is a reliever from the Royals, who only pitched 18 innings for a 8.84 ERA this year, doesn't exactly refute either of those adjectives. It's true that Houston has the luxury of a solid, tested offensive core that has made the team a perennial playoff contender, but the front office is seeming at this point that they're becoming complacent in that knowledge. The rotation needs another arm, and the bullpen needs help beyond the aforementioned Royal-turned-Astro Dylan Coleman.
Even though the words "interested in" as it pertains to free agents and big trade chips are become more and more frustrating by the day as teams continue to languish in inaction, the Astros have barely even had their names attached to players because of mere interest. There are still two months before pitchers and catchers report, but on the flip side there are only two months before pitchers and catchers report. Even if they didn't pull anything off during what was supposed to be the hottest event of the offseason, that doesn't mean they can't still do anything at all.
3 moves Houston Astros must make immediately after Winter Meetings
We've already established that the Astros are in a pretty good spot offensively, but relief pitching is a big concern, and there are still a few things they need to firm up in both their offensive and defensive configurations. Here are three moves that the Astros need to make after a disappointing few days in Nashville.
Capitalize on the reliever market starting to pick up steam
Dylan Coleman should not be the only reliever the Astros pick up this offseason. The reliever market is gaining a little more urgency with Reynaldo Lopez to the Braves, Craig Kimbrel to the Orioles, and Adam Cimber to the Angels headlining the bullpen signings so far, but there's no shortage of capable relievers still out there. One of the few names the Astros have been connected to is Jordan Hicks, who ranks toward the top of available free agent relievers as one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game, with a fastball that averaged 100.1 MPH this season and high strikeout and ground ball rates.
But plenty of other names are still on the table; the Guardians are listening to trade offers on Emmanuel Clase, and Jakob Junis, David Robertson, even Josh Hader have yet to sign a new deal. It's unlikely that the Astros would spend Josh Hader money on Josh Hader, especially when they have an effective closer in Ryan Pressly, but the point stands: there are a lot of available players waiting to be scooped up. Most of the more exciting acquisitions this year have included relievers, so it might be that the Astros don't have long to work on securing the ones they really want.