The Houston Astros have had a relatively quiet offseason so far, upgrading at the margins as expected, signing Victor Caratini as the backup catcher and landing a plethora of reclamation project relievers. They are facing a self-imposed budget as a result of their TV contract that many have assumed would keep them from making any big splashes.
That may not be the case after all.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Astros are still interested in Jordan Hicks. The Yankees too are interested in Hicks.
Houston has landed multiple under-the-radar relievers, whether it be via trade, or waiver claims. Declan Cronin, Brailyn Marquez, Dylan Coleman, Wander Suero, Tayler Scott and Kervin Castro are now all Astros. Most are expected to remain minor leaguers, though Coleman has some nasty stuff and has experienced great success at the big league level from 2021-2022 before a nightmare 2023.
Even still, none of those names jump off the pages as ones capable of replacing Hector Neris, Phil Maton and Ryne Stanek. Neris and his 1.71 ERA is an especially difficult loss to swallow.
Landing Jordan Hicks would immediately revamp the bullpen and go a long way towards replacing some of those innings. A trio of Hicks, Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly at the back end of games would give opponents fits.
Hicks threw 65.2 innings in 2023, posting a 3.29 ERA and 11.1 SO/9. He was especially lethal in Toronto. The Blue Jays acquired Hicks from St. Louis at the trade deadline, and in 25 appearances, Hicks posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.
His Stacast page is covered in red, with a 100th percentile fastball velocity, 96th percentile ground ball rate, 89th percentile average exit velocity, 87th percentile xBA, 85th percentile barrel rate, 84th percentile xERA, and 83rd percentile K%. That's the type of filth you need in high leverage spots.
Hicks will likely command three years, and though there is probably some trepidation about a contract of that length after the Rafael Montero debacle, Hicks has a much better track record to his name than Montero and is six years younger than Montero was when he signed last off-season.
If the Astros are serious about remaining atop the AL West and remaining World Series contenders, a piece like Jordan Hicks would go a long way to holding off their challengers.