The word “dynasty” shouldn’t be thrown around casually in sports. It’s one of the hardest things a team can establish and if they’re able to, it etches their name in history. The Houston Astros are coming off the franchise’s first-ever World Series win and they have the potential to create the next dynasty in sports.
I wrote a column back in August about why the trade for Justin Verlander was a good move for both sides (and yes this is my way of humbly bragging that I was right) and the whole point of that article is why they are poised for future success. The Astros have so much young talent at a cheap price for the next few years allowing them to spend in the areas where they are weak which are few in number. That’s a luxury many teams don’t get to enjoy.
The Astros won’t have to worry about cornerstones of their current roster like Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve or George Springer leaving until 2020 at the earliest and most other key players are under the arbitration process for the next few years at least. While some of the arbitration processes may result in higher contracts for players like Dallas Kuechel, it won’t be enough to significantly hinder Houston’s cap space.
So what are some of the holes the Astros still need to fix? The departing free agents who made an impact for Houston are Carlos Beltran and a couple of non-essential bullpen pitchers. The latter of which was likely to be a focus of the Astros this offseason anyways given their rumored interest in Baltimore closer Zach Britton at the trade deadline this season.
Most baseball insiders are expecting the Astros to pursue Cubs closer Wade Davis and potentially pursue Rockies closer Greg Holland. Finding other relievers will be key for the Astros as manager A.J. Hinch was forced to rely on three relief pitchers because the rest of the unit struggled so much.
The Astros could also pursue some of the top free agent pitchers like Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta or Masahiro Tanaka if they feel they want to create a triple threat atop their rotation. This is exactly the type of move that makes the Astros chances of repeating so strong.
Normally a World Series-winning team struggles to keep its core together due to financial strains but with those struggles aside, it’s entirely possible the Astros spend big on a big arm to create one of the top rotations in baseball.
Outfielder Cameron Maybin is also leaving in free agency although that loss will not be felt too greatly by the Astros. Many expect Houston to rely on their top prospect Kyle Tucker to fill that role but I would be hesitant of a “win now” team relying heavily on a rookie even with the Astros’ young core.
A player like Lorenzo Cain or Jay Bruce could prove to offensive spark plugs that help keep Houston’s runs output going.
The one possibility that is impossible to predict exactly who they could pursue but it’s a distinct possibility is the Astros dipping into their farm system, which many agree is still one of the league’s best, and trading for another key piece.
While it’s not likely the Astros pursue a big contract like Giancarlo Stanton who is getting $325 million from Miami, they could pursue someone like Andrew McCutchen who has a year remaining on his contract that will cost close to $15 million.
McCutchen would provide the perfect bridge to allow Tucker to develop in a rotational role without the team depending too heavily on him.
The mere fact that the possibilities of Houston trading or signing someone big all stretch to about every name on the market except for a few positions is a sign that the Astros are enjoying so much stability that they can pursue the big free agents that solidify Houston’s place among baseball’s elite for the next two to three seasons.
Tad Desai covers sports and education for The Sealy News. He can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.