Houston Astros: Pitching should be top priority amid start of GM Meetings

Houston Astros president of baseball ops and general manager Jeff Luhnow (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Astros president of baseball ops and general manager Jeff Luhnow (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros will begin the GM Meetings this week in Scottsdale, Ariz. Jeff Luhnow needs to make pitching a priority with 2020. Why is that the case?

Houston Astros fans — it’s the offseason and the team will be tasked with trying to keep this team competitive for yet another World Series in 2020.  This upcoming season will present unprecedented challenges to keep this team together as the core group of players are more advanced in their careers and they’re likely going to be commanding more money.

Justin Verlander‘s two-year, $66 million deal kicks in this season along with Alex Bregman‘s six-year, $100 million contract extension so a lot of extra salaries will be on the books this season.  The team has nearly $208 million worth of salary on the books and it’s toeing quite close to the $213M luxury tax line.

All of these things are being considered notwithstanding that baseball’s top free agent, Gerrit Cole is going to command a hefty chunk of change in order to keep him.  The Houston Astros have already said that they will make a run at him but I think it’ll be a matter of time before they have to bow to other teams with wads of cash to burn and are more than willing to pay the luxury tax.

The Houston Astros have to start thinking about reality without Cole and deciding how to fill their pitching rotation coming into 2020.

We know that Verlander, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. are under contract and will be back.  However, there’s a good chance that Aaron Sanchez won’t be ready for next season after having season-ending shoulder surgery a few months back.

In addition, we’re not sure how high Wade Miley is on a return back to the Houston Astros.  If he is, I think the team needs to negotiate a fair contract with him that includes a pay bump about the $4.9M he made last season.  I’d imagine that Miley would want to return.  I honestly think that his arm went dead as he creeping eerily close to the 200-inning mark last season, a mark that he hasn’t hit in two seasons.

In terms of the bullpen, Will Harris and Collin McHugh are free agents and the Houston Astros need to make bringing back Harris a priority.  His performance was near All-Star status and he, for the most part, was lights out through the postseason.

Harris will be drawing a lot of interest so it’s imperative that they make re-signing him a priority.

Roberto Osuna will earn $10.2M next season as the team’s closer and although he had close to a

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career-high 38 saves last season accompanied with a 2.63 ERA, it was the saves that he blew — particularly in the postseason — that we remember the most.  But it could be a lot worse, we could still have Ken Giles in the chamber.  Nonetheless, I’m positive the Houston Astros won’t move on from him but if there’s a salary crunch to get down to the number that they want, who’s to say that Osuna is not one of those casualties?

All things considered, the Houston Astros need to look for at least one — possibly two — starting arms this season to fill out the rotation.  It won’t be easy as those commodities are always in demand.

They must be careful to not pluck from the farm any more than they have because they just gave up four solid prospects just to land Greinke before this past July trade deadline.

So putting together a roster that is cost-effective yet doesn’t take away from their precious reserves on the farm is going to be the mantra for this season unless the directive is otherwise from Jim Crane.

Next. Astros: Cole and Verlander's case for the AL Cy Young. dark

It won’t be easy but I’m confident Luhnow will come up with something that will be a win-win for both the Houston Astros and its fans, whether it’s this week or next month at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Let’s hope for the best — go Houston Astros!

The GM Meetings will be held Nov. 11-14 in Scottsdale, Ariz.