MLB Winter Meetings are right around the corner, and with those, many of the off-season dominoes will begin to fall. Free agents will sign, trades will be made, and contract extensions will be signed. For the Houston Astros, the meetings will present a prime opportunity to finally get down to business and get their roster ready for 2024.
The Astros have promoted Joe Espada to manager, and while that was undoubtedly the right move, they've been silent on the roster construction front this far. By the time Winter Meetings wrap up, that can't continue be the case.
4 big moves at Winter Meetings the Astros need to make
The Astros can't get beat to the punch any longer. So often they are making reactive moves to what the rest of the division or the league are doing. Houston needs to strike first for once, whether that be signing a key free agent or locking up some of their own.
First, they need to solidify the rotation.
#1 The Astros need to acquire an ace
Houston has had a dominant rotation for much of their Golden Era, but that was hardly the case in 2023. Injuries played a huge piece, but the Astros paid the price for choosing not to address their rotation last off-season.
Yes, they will get Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. back around the All-Star break, but can they withstand another injury to their rotation? Can they bank on Justin Verlander producing at an All-Star level on the wrong side of 40? Does Framber Valdez have it in him to bounce back from his dreadful second half? What Cristian Javier shows up in 2024? With so many questions, the Astros need to find an answer.
Landing prized free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto would be the dream, but they also can find a #1 via trade. Corbin Burnes and Tyler Glasnow are aces available for rent, and with the title window still open for at least another year, the Astros should be on the phones for both.
Dylan Cease was down in 2023, but his career numbers are eerily similar to those of Gerrit Cole when Houston traded for two years of the future Cy Young winner. If Cease can regain his 2022 form, the Astros would have one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Whatever the move is, if Houston doesn't emerge from Winter Meetings with another dominant arm in the stable, they've missed the opportunity to capitalize on a closing championship window.