Houston Astros: Five things atop the team’s Christmas wish list

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 30: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 30: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
2 of 6
Houston Astros pitchers
HOUSTON, TX – JULY 08: Houston Astros starting pitchers (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

A starting pitcher or two

The Houston Astros have to figure out their starting rotation for the 2019 season. Charlie Morton is officially gone as he signed a two-year, $30 million with the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. Morton was excellent for the Astros in his two years with the team and the World Series win is hard to imagine without him.

Dallas Keuchel was also a free agent with Morton and Keuchel has never really been considered a candidate to return as he is going to carry an expensive price tag. On top of those two being free agents, Lance McCullers Jr. will also not be a part of the 2019 rotation as he underwent Tommy John surgery about a month ago.

So that leaves three openings in the Astros starting rotation for the 2019 season, about a 500 inning void. The team views Collin McHugh as a piece of the rotation heading into the spring so that fills one of the holes.

More. Three most disappointing players to the 2018 season. light

There is a possibility that the Houston Astros will opt to fill at least one more opening internally as Framber Valdez and Josh James both pitched well down the stretch. However, Valdez may wind up as a lefty arm out of the pen. Then there is also top prospect Forrest Whitley to consider but, more on him later.

There are plenty of options for the team to go after in free agency, even after some chips have started to fall. There are also a bunch of trade options that the Astros could pursue if they so wish. So the team should have no shortage of choices for their final rotation spot but expect there to be at least one external guy brought in.