It's difficult to be upset as an Astros fan having watched Houston sign Josh Hader to the largest contract for a relief pitcher in Major League Baseball history. The five-time All-Star will team up with Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly to form one of the most imposing relief trios in the game next season.
But baseball is more about the eighth and ninth inning, and the Astros still have some holes remaining on their roster. Chief among them is a left-handed hitting outfielder with speed.
While Joc Pederson doesn't necessarily have that third characteristic, the former Astros' postseason nemesis would've brought a reliable bat to Houston's lineup next season. Unfortunately, Pederson just signed a one-year deal worth $12.5 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Astros might’ve lost perfect lefty outfield target after Joc Pederson's deal with Diamondbacks
As it stands right now, the Astros outfield consists of Kyle Tucker, Chas McCormick and Jake Myers. Tucker is the only left-handed hitting outfielder on the roster, unless you include Yordan Álvarez. However, seeing as how the two-time All-Star only started 40 games in left field last season, Álvarez hardly seems like a realistic option and will routinely be slotted as the Astros designated hitter.
With Pederson off the board, the talent pool on the free agent market is just a touch shallower. Spring training is less than a month away, and Astros GM Dana Brown would be wise to snag one of the lingering left-handed hitting free agents before other clubs become more desperate. Either that, or really invest in the organization's younger options when the team can get a better look at them this spring.
Of course, Cody Bellinger is the biggest name remaining on the market. But the former MVP's price tag is said to be sky-high. Most reports suggest Bellinger will end up back on the North Side of Chicago with the Cubs, but the two sides have yet to come to terms on a new deal.
However, there are other free agents Houston could target. A player like Travis Jankowski definitely fits what the Astros are said to be seeking this offseason. Jankowski is one of the fastest players in the league and would seem to be a very logical fit to platoon in the Houston outfield alongside McCormick and Myers.
At least the Astros avoid having to face Pederson on a regular basis within the AL West Division. The former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder was a one-man wrecking crew during the 2017 World Series against the Astros and almost single-handedly derailed Houston's World Championship dreams. We'll take that as a win, we suppose.