4 X-factors that will make or break the Astros' offseason plans

Going into the offseason, the Astros have a lot of things to consider before they push their chips in on a gameplan.
World Series - Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three
World Series - Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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It is unclear how aggressively the Astros will be able to rebuild their bullpen

While the Astros going after Justin Verlander at the trade deadline was heartening in the sense that it showed that Dana Brown is willing to be aggressive to improve Houston's roster, that move definitely complicated the Astros' payroll situation this year. Verlander is set to make over $43 million in 2024 and while the Mets sent a nice chunk of change over in that deal, JV is still getting paid a good bit and Houston is very close to the luxury tax threshold already for next season which could be a red line for owner Jim Crane.

Where this matters the most could be the bullpen which is going to need some revamping next season. Ryan Pressley was great and he is coming back, but Hector Neris was one the Astros' best relievers and he is likely to decline his $8.5 million player option and Ryne Stanek, who was great in 2022 but kinda stunk in 2023, is probably heading for the door as well.

Bullpens typically have the most turnover of any place on the roster, but how much wiggle room in their payroll the Astros have to bring in quality bullpen arms to restock is an open question. If Crane is willing to pay a bit in luxury tax penalties, then they will probably be fine and could even make a run at bringing Neris back into the fold.

However, if they are truly financial constrained this offseason, Dana Brown is going to have to go shopping in the clearance aisle and hoping that the Astros can find a diamond in the rough or two.