Is Gallardo the right choice for Houston?
With their bullpen now shored up by the addition of potential closer Ken Giles, who was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies back in December, and the team’s very potent offense, the only real improvement the Astros could use involves their starting rotation.
The team’s starting pitching isn’t necessarily bad. They do have the reigning Cy Young Award winner in left-hander Dallas Keuchel as their ace. However, adding a veteran starter could help them secure a spot atop the AL West and allow them to really contend in the postseason.
The rest of the rotation includes all right-handers in Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, Scott Feldman and Lance McCullers, who will be in just his second full big league season. Each one pitched well in 2015 – at least while with the Astros – but have had weak seasons in the past. The same can even be said about Keuchel. His first two years in the league were pretty rough, buthe turned that around in 2014.
Basically, what the Astros need is a solid, consistent pitcher to take over the No. 2 or 3 spot in the rotation. Gallardo could easily be that starter.
Gallardo, who will turn 30 in February, has had a very stable nine-year career. He spent his first eight seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers before being traded to the Texas Rangers prior to the 2015 season.
With the exception of two knee surgeries, Gallardo has had a healthy and productive career. Both surgeries took place in 2008. The first was on his left knee leaving him on the 15-day disabled list to start the season, and the second was the result of a random collision with Chicago Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson during his fourth start of 2008. The collision rendered Gallardo out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
From 2009-15 Gallardo has averaged 191 innings pitched and 32 starts per season, while keeping his ERA under 4.00. Gallardo owns a 3.66 career ERA and made the National League All-Star team in 2010. He’s almost guaranteed to give whatever team he ends up with 180-plus innings with a solid ERA in 2016. On paper, he is exactly what the Astros need.
Being currently considered the best free agent starter left on the market, Gallardo will likely come at a fairly steep price. Wei-Yin Chen, another second tier free agent pitcher, recently signed a five year deal worth $80 million with the Miami Marlins, potentially upping the projected salary for Gallardo.
But for a team to sign Gallardo, like Chen, they’ll have to surrender a draft pick. Gallardo rejected the qualifying offer extended by the Rangers, meaning whichever team signs Gallardo–Colorado, Houston and Baltimore are most involved right now–will lose their top draft pick. The Marlins had a protected top ten draft pick and will only surrender their second draft pick, making it easier for them to sign Chen.
The first 10 picks are protected, so a team like the Rockies would forfeit a second-round pick. Houston would have to forfeit the 21st pick of the 2016 draft, with Texas receiving a compensation pick in return.
It’s a rivalry that is quickly heating up as the two teams battled it out to the bitter end for the 2015 AL Western Division Title, which ultimately went to the resilient Rangers. Plus, both teams want to be the first to bring a World Series Championship to the state of Texas.
Even though Gallardo would slide perfectly into the Astros’ starting rotation providing the stability they desire, this might not be a deal that they would be willing to make.
The draft pick is one thing, but there’s also the contract. Gallardo could get somewhere around $50 million, which is an amount that the Astros haven’t shown the willingness to pay recently.
It’s a tough choice for Houston to make. On the one hand, Gallardo is exactly what they are looking for. On the other hand, they would have to sacrifice more than any of the other teams to get him.