No one wants to think about the offseason when it comes to the Astros. But, having just lost the World Series, it might not be a bad idea to get our minds off of what was and try to focus on what could be. Besides, playing the literal last day of the year means you are pretty good already.
Still, there are some important issues they will face both from free agents and in arbitration to say nothing of the hot stove league to come. Let's look at the six biggest player decisions they will need to make this offseason.
Let's start with the biggest free agent name on the list and get this over with quickly. Cole is going to command a contract worth at least $200 million, probably more, making him the highest paid pitcher in history. The Astros aren't going to pay that for a variety of reasons, so they are going to lose him, unfortunately. Moving on...
Harris turned out to be the Astros most reliable reliever until the last two games of the World Series. Even at 34 years old, Harris will have quite a bit of value on the free agent market, so keeping him will be difficult. But, the Astros will try given his value as a stable reliever and the fact that they have four other relievers hitting the open market this offseason.
Not only was Chirinos great at calling a game this season, but he showed some real power at the plate, which gave them some pop at the bottom of the order. With both Chirinos and Maldonado hitting free agency, it would seem likely the Astros keep one of them and perhaps pursue another catcher on the market. Chirinos has such value to the team, expect him to be their first target at the position.
Even though Springer is up for arbitration, it is his last such negotiation before free agency. That best the question: Will the Astros sign him to a long-term deal? More importantly, should they? Springer and Altuve are the heart and soul of this core of players. Additionally, Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley will be free agents next year as well. With Kyle Tucker set to move up next season, it makes sense to lock down your best outfielder to keep the core intact for a few more seasons. If Springer doesn't re-up long term, it probably means he will be trade bait before the start of next season and that would be a shocker.
Correa is a different story. Alex Bregman already has a long term contract and he's a year older than Correa. But, at 25, the phenom shortstop with all the tools has so consistently struggled with injuries, it makes sense the Astros would hold off on a big contract with him, especially with two more seasons under team control. All options are certainly on the table, but expect the Astros to push off any big contract decisions for Correa until next offseason.
Like Correa, Osuna has one more year of arbitration left after this one, but we have to wonder if there will be any kind of push to dangle one of the better closers in the American League in a trade. Nevermind his occasional struggles and problems in the postseason, the franchise continues to suffer from acquiring him in the first place, first from those who objected to trading for someone with a domestic assault background, then by the team themselves in the aftermath of the senseless Brandon Taubman mess. Osuna will probably remain the team's closer into 2020, but don't be shocked if the rumors swirl about his availability over the winter.
Here are the rest:
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Arbitration Eligible Players
Lance McCullers, Jr.