This star pitcher should be at the top of Houston's shopping list this offseason

If the Astros are serious about remaining World Series contenders, they should do whatever it takes to land Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Republic of Korea v Japan - Baseball - Olympics: Day 12
Republic of Korea v Japan - Baseball - Olympics: Day 12 / Koji Watanabe/GettyImages

The free agent market has been startlingly quiet, but with winter meetings set to begin, big moves should be made in bunches any day now. The Astros should beat the other 29 teams to the punch. 

According to Jon Heyman, the Astros are interested in a #1 starter this offseason. Good news Astros fans, that #1 posted on Monday. 

The Astros must sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto this off-season 

Enough with the “where is the money going to come from?” talk. Houston has made seven straight trips to the ALCS. They’ve been to four World Series in that stretch. They won two of them. 

The Houston Astros are a cash cow for Jim Crane. He bought the team for $680 million in 2011. They now are worth an estimated $2.25 billion. If you’re doing the matth, Crane’s investment has more than tripled. 

If he wants to continue winning and making even more money, Crane needs to do whatever it takes to land Yoshinobu Yamamoto this offseason. He’s the best pitcher on the market, and landing a player of his caliber prolongs the Astros window of contention even further.

Yamamoto is the best pitcher in Japanese history. In seven seasons, he has a career 1.72 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, and a 4.56 SO/W ratio. Three times he has down the Eiji Sawamura Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young, and three times he has won the pitching triple crown.  

Landing a pitcher like that ensures the Astros have a dominant ace and will be winning games for a long time. Postseason success will continue for at least the next half-decade. 

And some of us are asking where an extra $30 million a year is going to come from?

The Texas Rangers spent $800 million in the last two off-seasons to fast track their rebuild and already have a ring to show for it. That hasn’t stopped them from going after many of the top names on the market. 

The Phillies just gave Aaron Nola $172 million over seven years to return to Philadelphia. They’re now carrying six contracts over $20 million and are rumored to be looking to extend Zack Wheeler AND land Yamamoto this offseason. 

Teams across baseball are serious about winning World Series titles in bunches, and they’re spending like it. The Braves have locked up their core and continue to be aggressive in landing talent, the Phillies and Rangers continue to relentlessly pursue top talent, and the Dodgers are in on all of the biggest names. 

Yet Crane, with a barren farm system, continues to avoid the luxury tax at all costs. 

That was one thing when their top players were all under team control for years to come, and those that weren’t had capable replacements coming in the farm system. Those days are gone. 

Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve are entering the last years of their contracts. Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez are only under team control for two more years. And let’s not forget Justin Verlander is approaching 40. 

If Crane wants to hang his hat on what Houston has done over the last seven years, it’s his choice. If he is as serious about winning as he claims to be, it’s time to put the money he has made over the last decade to good use. 

Yamamoto gives the Astros a true ace with JV getting older and questions another Framber after his second-half collapse. 

Landing an ace like Yamamoto allows Houston to keep innings off of young arms like Hunter Brown, and will keep from racing Valdez and Cristian Javier. If those two bounce back, and Houston can get first half Hunter Brown back now that’s he’s acclimated to a full season workload, you’d be hard pressed to find a better 1-5 of starting pitchers than Yamamoto, Verlander, Valdez, Javier and Brown. 

Adding Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. into the mix gives them an embarrassment of riches pitching wise. 

Houston lost this year in part because their offense collapsed in the ALCS, yes, but also because they simply ran out of pitching. Landing Yamamoto ensures that doesn’t happen again. 

The Astros are at an inflection point. They can make one more run at 2024 with what they have, and then ride off into the sunset, or they can finally spend the needed money to win now and in the future. 

If Houston wants to do that, landing Yoshinobu Yamamoto in free agency should be their foremost priority.