Despite the obvious fact that the Houston Astros improved by leaps and bounds in 2015, they, like every other team, still have some glaring needs that should be addressed if the team is serious about making a run for the American League pennant next season.
They came just six outs shy from eliminating the Kansas City Royals in the American League Division Series (ALDS) and advancing to the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in 2015, after years of dwelling in the cellar of the National League Central and the American League West.
In 2015, the talent that the Astros had acquired from years of having high draft picks finally paid off, but in order to take the AL pennant and potentially even the World Series in 2016, the team needs to address certain positions. They could use another arm for the back end of their bullpen, a left fielder and potentially another starting pitcher to add to their already top-heavy rotation.
Focusing on their first need would be a solid pitcher for their bullpen, potentially a closer or a pitcher ready to be a closer. These days, you don’t necessarily have to be a “power arm” like the Cincinnati Reds’ Aroldis Chapman, who can hit well over the 100 mph mark regularly. That said, if they wanted him, the Astros could probably acquire Chapman; they’d just have to deplete their farm system.
As far as free agents go, Kansas City Royals’ Wade Davis is by far the best on the market, but he won’t be on the market long. Davis has a team option for 2016 in his contract and, being how he has dominated since being named closer, the Royals would be crazy not to pick up the option.
Although Davis is not an extreme power pitcher – his fastball averages in the low-mid 90’s – he’s been an effective closer. If you look at Brad Ziegler, who closed this year for the Diamondbacks, he’s not a power pitcher either, however, he tied the D-Backs’ consecutive saves record.
Ziegler’s fastball tops out at 84 mph. He has a repetoire of pitches and throws sidearm, but it shows that it doesn’t take a power arm to close games. Ziegler, too, could be a free agent but it would be odd if the Diamondback’s don’t pick up his $5.5 million option for next season.
The Astros may not even specifically be looking for a closer, but their bullpen did start to fall apart on them in September. Here are a few free agent relievers who might fit in well in to add some depth to the Astros’ bullpen. The Astros’ payroll ended the season around $90 million.
They still have plenty of wiggle room, but keep in mind that they don’t have the luxury of being too extravagant with their spending as they need to be able to lock up some of their premiere young talent such as Carlos Correa and George Springer for the future.
The Astros may not even specifically be looking for a closer, but their bullpen did start to fall apart on them in September. Here are a few free agent relievers who might fit in well in to add some depth to the Astros bullpen …
To read which free agents would be a good fit to shore up the Astros’ bullpen, you can read the remainder of my column by following the link below: