Astros GM hints team could make trade before Opening Day

Will Dana Brown make a shrewd addition or two before the start of the 2024 season?
Houston Astros general manager Dana Brown
Houston Astros general manager Dana Brown / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros general manager Dana Brown feels good about his team heading into the 2024 season. And why shouldn't he? The Astros won the American League West in 2023 were one game away from back-to-back trips to the World Series last fall.

Houston is returning virtually the entire starting lineup from a year ago. The Astros starting rotation, even without Justin Verlander to start the 2024 season, should be among the best in the league. Plus the front office landed one of the top relievers in the game after signing Josh Hader to a record-breaking contract earlier this year.

But Brown mentioned during an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that the Astros haven't settled on how the team will handle its group of middle relievers. Moreover, Brown said the Astros have talked to other teams about the possibility of a trade to upgrade the team's bullpen.

Astros GM hints team could make trade before Opening Day

Brown did not mince words - he likes what the Astros have in Hader, Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Rafael Montero. But, after losing Ryne Stanek, Hector Neris, and Phil Maton, the Astros have a lot of innings to cover.

Those three pitchers ranked among the top four in appearances on the team last season. Stanek, Neris, and Maton combined for 201 relief appearances and over 200 innings pitched. Throw in the absence of Kendall Graveman, who'll be out for the year following offseason surgery, and the Astros need to replace over 220 innings.

Internally, Houston could look at Ronel Blanco, who's been competing for a spot in the rotation this spring. But the club may prefer to keep the right-hander stretched out in the minor leagues. Left-hander Parker Mushinski has pitched well this spring, and veteran southpaw Bennett Sousa will probably break camp with the big league club, but neither of names offer much of a track record.

During the interview, Brown did not reveal the teams with whom he's had conversations. But it would seem unlikely that Houston would want to add much more guaranteed money to a payroll that's already over the Competitive Balance Tax threshold according to FanGraphs.

That said, it's not as if the Astros farm system is loaded with prospects that are going to be overly attractive to opposing general managers. Brown might have to work some magic if he truly wants to upgrade the Astros bullpen through a trade.

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