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Posted on November 20, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine

Houston Astros

ftw.usatoday.com

The Houston Astros are the clear winners of the MLB offseason, at least early on before things really start to heat up at the Winter Meetings in early December. In the span of a few days earlier this week, the Astros signed starting pitcher Charlier Morton, traded for catcher Brian McCann, and agreed to sign outfielder Josh Reddick. Those moves already have the Astros looking like one of the best teams in the American League, at least on paper. But Houston doesn’t appear to be finished, as the Astros are still looking to make big moves this offseason.

For starters, Ken Rosenthal reported on Saturday that Houston’s signing of Reddick will not prevent them from continuing to go after free agent Carlos Beltran. Earlier this week, the Astros were reported to be one of the most aggressive suitors for Beltran, although that was before the team added both McCann and Reddick to its lineup. However, Houston did not taken an either/or approach to Reddick and Beltran, and so Beltran remains a top target for the Astros.

Beltran, as some may remember, had a spectacular run with the Astros the second half of the 2004 season, helping lead them to the NLCS. However, he’s been booed in Houston ever since after signing a long-term deal with the New York Mets that offseason. Now there appears to be a chance that Beltran could return to Houston in the twilight of his career in a deliciously ironic twist.


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On the surface, the Astros don’t necessarily need Beltran, but there is some uncertainty as to the third spot in their outfield alongside Reddick and George Springer, a question that Beltran could potentially answer. Beltran could also become Houston’s regular DH if the Astros aren’t sold on McCann and Evan Gattis rotating back and forth between catcher and DH all season. Rosenthal also mentions the positive impact Beltran could have on the Astros as a veteran presence on a team whose core is quite young.

Rosenthal also believes the Astros could also attempt to acquire a frontline starting pitcher this winter, most likely via the trade market. The signing of Morton helped to solidify their rotation for next season alongside Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, and Joe Musgrove, but barring a bounce back season from Keuchel, the Astros may not have the ace they need to make a deep postseason run in 2017.

With a lack of options on the free agent market, the Astros could put themselves into the mix to acquire either Chris Sale or Chris Archer via trade. Houston has not been shy about trading away prospects over the past couple of years, and the Astros believe they have the prospects to land Sale, Archer, or a comparable starting pitcher. Such a trade could force them to part with one of their young core players, most notably Alex Bregman, but such a scenario can’t be ruled out based on how aggressive and assertive the Astros have been this offseason.

Whether the Astros end up making another big move this offseason remains to be seen, but the possibility is definitely there. Houston’s window to make a run at a championship is definitely open, and the team appears willing to do what it takes to make the most of its opportunity. This makes the Astros a team to watch closely for the remainder of the offseason, even after a flurry of proactive moves earlier this week.