3 moves the Astros need to make right before the Winter Meetings

The Astros have some work to do ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Oct 20, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Hector Neris (50) throws during the
Oct 20, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Hector Neris (50) throws during the / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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Bring back Hector Neris

Arguably the biggest area of need this offseason for the Astros is the bullpen. They have multiple key bullpen arms hitting free agency and with their rotation having an older Justin Verlander and will soon have guys like Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia back who may need their innings managed coming off of injuries, having a stout bullpen needs to be a priority.

The most logical move to start building the bullpen back up is by bringing back one of their best arms in Hector Neris. In 71 appearances last season, Neris put up a 1.71 ERA and 2.5 rWAR with 77 strikeouts in 68.1 innings of work. He didn't have the postseason that anyone wanted to be sure, but there is no denying how much he helped out of the pen in 2023.

The problem, of course, is cost and that is where things get tricky. Neris had his $8.5 million contract option convert into a player option last year and he subsequently declined that option in order to hit free agency. Given the year he had, there are going to be no shortage of suitors for the righty's services this offseason.

It won't be cheap and the specter of Rafael Montero's deal looms large, but the Astros need to bring Neris back. If you are Jim Crane, why be willing to bring back a guy like Verlander and pay him as much as you are if you aren't willing to shore up the bullpen behind him? That is how the team SHOULD look at it, although whether or not that happens remains to be seen.