Astros lose out on key international pitcher as Blue Jays win sweepstakes

The Astros missed out on yet another pitching target this offseason.
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Rumors of the Houston Astros' interest in Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodriguez can now be put to bed. He has chosen his next team. contributor Francys Romero is reporting that Rodriguez has come to terms with the Toronto Blue Jays and the deal will become official once the right-hander passes a physical.

Astros fans are beginning to wonder if their team is going to do anything this offseason. Romero reported late last month that Houston was one of handful of teams still interested in signing Rodriguez. The only. good news here is that the New York Yankees missed out on Rodriguez as well.

Rodriguez is seen as a bit of swingman (able to work as both a starter and reliever), and after the most recent injury news concerning veteran pitcher Kendall Graveman, Houston could've used some good news on the pitching front. Graveman will miss all of the 2024 season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Astros lose out on Yariel Rodriguez as Blue Jays win sweepstakes

The outlook for the Astros bullpen heading into the upcoming season is not pretty. Houston has lost Hector Neris (free agent), Ryne Stanek (free agent) and Phil Maton (free agent). Throw in Graveman's injury, and the Astros' front office has a lot of holes to fill ahead of the team's arrival in Palm Beach next month.

The Astros' only major addition this offseason has been catcher Victor Caratini. Outside of that, Houston has lost veteran backstop Martin Maldanado, former All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley, and future Hall of Fame manager Dusty Baker.

After Rodriguez signed with the Blue Jays, it's back to the drawing board for the Astros ... again. According to Chandler Rome of The Athletic (subscription required) Houston is said to have had contact with the representation for Neris, Stanek and Maton, but no deal is imminent.

While a reunion with Neris would certainly help to bolster the Astros' relief corps, recent rumors suggest the reliever is drawing free agent interest from both the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. His rumored price tag of $50 million will pretty much eliminate the Astros from re-signing him, too.

The Astros need to wake up from their hibernation this winter and find a way to improve their beleaguered bullpen. While some internal options exist, there's no way Houston can cover the number of innings necessary with in-house promotions only.