Signing Corbin Burnes would be a better use of Houston's money than Bregman
While next offseason's free agent class when it comes to position players is pretty bleak outside of Juan Soto who almost certainly will be out of the Astros' price range, we turn to the pitching market which does have some studs available for the moment. In a world where Houston is freed from paying Bregman after next season, they really need to target impending free agent Corbin Burnes.
Among the top free agent starters that are set to be available next year, Burnes stands out as a guy with a tremendous track record and as a guy that is almost certainly not interested in re-signing with his old team. Burnes had a down year by his standards in 2023, but he still finished eighth in Cy Young voting and won the award in 2021. Given his ability to miss bats and put up a lot of innings, half of the league is going to be interested in signing him when he hits free agency.
One team that is extraordinarily unlikely to be able to sign him is the Brewers. Milwaukee screwed their relationship up with Burnes thanks to a very contentious arbitration hearing last year with few signs that that relationship has improved. The Brewers are already loathe to spend big on free agents most of the time and given the two sides' current feelings for each other, there is basically no shot the Burnes stays in Milwaukee beyond next season.
Assuming Bregman does indeed walk, the Astros would be in a prime position to land the ace. Even if Houston decides to extend Altuve for a decent chunk of change, they should still have plenty of money available to make a strong push for Burnes with the tax advantages of playing in Texas helping the cause. Signing Burnes would give Houston one of the league's strongest rotations as well as protect against the potential loss of Framber down the line and the potential end of Verlander's career which is coming whether we like it or not.