Astros fans hoping Yankees’ offseason aggression doesn’t represent turning of the tides

The Astros played it safe this offseason while the Yankees decided to go for broke.
Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez (59) reacts
Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez (59) reacts / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If we're being honest, the Houston Astros offseason was rather mundane. Yes, the front office did what everyone knew they would after signing Jose Altuve to a five-year extension. That was all but a given with Altuve entering the final year of his contract.

The Astros surprised a lot of fans when Houston went all-in on Josh Hader. The Astros had some holes in the bullpen, but it was rather surprising to see Houston give Hader a record-breaking deal with both Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly on the roster.

And while the 'Stros were supposedly "in" on Blake Snell and other starting pitchers throughout the 2023-24 offseason, nothing ever materialized. However, the New York Yankees went all-in. Brian Cashman pushed all his chips to the center of the table and traded for All-Star outfielder Juan Soto despite the fact he'll be a free agent after the 2024 season. Should the Astros be a little on edge after seeing the Yankees up-close and personal on Thursday?

Astros fans hoping Yankees’ offseason aggression doesn’t represent turning of the tides

The Yankees were aggressive this offseason. After missing the postseason in 2023, New York needed to prove that they were in it to win it this winter. Acquiring Soto was a step in the right direction. While the Yankees' pursuit of Yoshinobu Yamamoto fell short, New York was still willing to spend the money to get that deal done.

The Yankees, like the Astros, were also after Snell. However, after the reigning NL Cy Young Award-winner spurned the Yanks' offer, Cashman immediately turned his attention to another free agent hurler. The Yankees agreed to a deal with Marcus Stroman to help solidify their rotation.

Per Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Yankees' Opening Day payroll is $310 million. The Bronx Bombers are expected to incur a $55 million surcharge after crossing the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. The Astros, who were unwilling to spend that type of money this offseason, will pay just over $5 million in taxes with an Opening Day payroll of $260 million.

Small market clubs like the Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, and Cincinnati Reds have to play money ball. Those teams don't have the same type of revenue that clubs like the Yankees, Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers enjoy. But the Astros lack of spending this offseason could come back to bite them.

While Houston didn't need to target a big fish like Snell or Jordan Montgomery, signing a starter like Michael Lorenzen or re-signing a reliever like Hector Neris would've added depth to the roster without breaking the bank. But the Astros ownership was unwilling to pay the 42.5% surcharge that comes once you cross the next tier of the Competitive Balance Tax.

Will that ultimately come back to haunt the Astros this season? It's too early to tell, but it'll definitely be a topic of discussion if the Yankees are sitting on top of the American League by September.

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