A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow

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Astros Prepare For Free Agency

The Astros have holes to fill with the coming free agency, specifically in the starting rotation

October 22, 2018 - 11:53 am
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Houston (SPORTSRADIO 610) - Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow spoke on the coming free agency in a final 2018 season press conference. While there were questions about player health, he could not go any further than to say there were follow-up appointments for a few players. However, the focus was mostly on how different the team could look in 2019.

"We're going to get together this week, we're going to have some pretty extensive meetings to debrief our current roster and look at what's out there in free agency, including our own players that are reaching free agency," Jeff said.

A lot of focus is going into the starting rotation which is losing two key members. Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel are both free agents. There is also the possibility of Lance McCullers Jr. missing next season with elbow surgery, though no details were given on his status.

"There's no doubt that with two of our rotation members going into free agency that we're going to have to replace them. We're going to look externally, we're going to look at that group itself, and we're going to look internally and try to figure it out," Luhnow said. "The starting rotation was a huge strength of our team this year, we want it to be a strength of our team next year. Obviously we've got the top two guys coming back, and they're going to be pretty solid, and they're both ready to go, the question is how do we fill out the rest of the rotation."

With the injuries that occured during 2018 to some of the rotation, there was a chance for some prospects to show their talent at the Major League level. The opportunity was great for the players and the front office. Confidence lingers in some of the players, like Josh James, that made the postseason roster.

"I was encouraged by what we saw by Josh James and Framber Valdez, and some of the guys that got a chance to be up here," Luhnow said. "This is a championship caliber team, we expect to have a championship caliber rotation."

Not only is the rotation needing arms, but currently there is only one player that could be behind the plate to stop the ball from rolling to the backstop. Max Stassi is the only catcher that is officially still with the team. Martin Maldonado is a free agent, and veteran Brian McCann has an option to return or become a free agent.

"We need to have three or four catchers that we can rely on that can catch this pitching staff," Jeff said. "It's definitely an area of focus for us this offseason, no question."

Other questions arose about the outfield which has some competition between Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick and prospect Kyle Tucker. The interest in Tucker remains, though he had a lackluster beginning to his Astros career. Luhnow acknowledged that it can take time for a player to come around at the big league level, but is optimistic about one of his top prospects.

"I think next year is a big year for Kyle Tucker," Luhnow said. "We're going to give him a shot, but we're not going to hand him the job... I'm hoping that he's ready to take it and becomes a fixture for us, because he's the type of talent."