The Houston Astros will have to make a tough decision this offseason and it will likely be choosing between either Zack Greinke or Gerrit Cole. Why?
More than a month ago, at the trade deadline, the Houston Astros rocked the baseball world as Jeff Luhnow dealt a package of highly-touted prospects that included starting pitcher Corbin Martin, relief pitcher J.B. Bukauskas, and first baseman Seth Beer for Greinke.
With landing Greinke, came high expectations and in his first six starts with the team, the 35-year-old right-hander has had more downs than ups, unfortunately, which has led to questions among the fan base as to whether the team should clear the racks to retain star pitcher Gerrit Cole.
Cole, 28, will be a free agent at the end of the season and will be desired by quite a few teams around the league. Cole has been impeccable this season, along with his teammate Justin Verlander. This season has been one of the best, if not the best season for Cole and to sign him, the Houston Astros will need to offer him a deal worth up to the maximum allowable contract.
Expectations for Greinke when he arrived in Houston were sky high, as he has been expected to be the star No. 3 that would all but catapult this team to the World Series, but also take over as the No. 2 in this rotation for years to come. This is where the thought of doing everything in the team’s power comes in to re-sign Cole.
Cole is undoubtedly a true ace; and at his age, there’s a very good argument to make that it would be a questionable move if the Houston Astros did not bring him back, or at least make their best effort to do so.
He has already set the Houston Astros single-season record for double-digit strikeout games (15) and, along with Verlander, will be one of two contenders for the Cy Young Award on this team and has been very durable, missing just one start.
If there has been a chink in one’s armor, it has been the health of the pitching staff. Brad Peacock, Aaron Sanchez, Collin McHugh and Lance McCullers have missed extensive time this season, with the latter to be out all of 2019 because of Tommy John surgery. So Cole’s durability in itself would be a major reason to retain him.
Cole’s time with the Houston Astros has justified that he’s owed a lucrative, max-type deal. With Greinke getting older plus the money that is left on his contract, why would you not want to make an all-out effort for Cole?
But there is another maneuver that Jeff Luhnow can make to open up cap space for Cole.
Try this on for size — we know veteran outfielder Josh Reddick is a fan favorite in town but he
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turns 33 next season, the last of his four-year, $52 million deal and is set to earn $13M. Kyle Tucker, ranked 12th among prospects per MLB Pipeline, is coming off a 30/30 season with the Round Rock Express. I believe it’s time to bring the youngster to the majors and give him a full season to perform.
Outside of Greinke and Reddick, the big contracts on this team are rightfully distributed with the remaining money that they’re owed, with guys like Jose Altuve (five years, $130M), Alex Bregman (five years, $100M), and Verlander (two years, $66M) having the highest-paying deals for at least for a quarter of the next decade. The Houston Astros also have reinforcements coming next year as well, with the return of McCullers and a full season of Sanchez.
This offseason is sure to be one full of movement for the Houston Astros, but hopefully, it’s one that follows with a World Series win for the team.
Can Greinke get back to form before the playoffs? Will Cole be back with the team in 2020? Will Greinke be a cap casualty to bring back Cole?
All of these questions should resonate among Houston Astros’ fans.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below — feel free to sound off!